Press statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and other members of the Cabinet at the start of the Cabinet meeting of October 1

01 October

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Ludovic Orban: I want to congratulate you for the way you organized elections. Of course, along with AEP and all the other institutions. I understand that, in the end, the big media revelation was a big joke, but it is customary for that television station to present offenders as honest people, and honest people in the exercise of their office, to be portrayed as thieves. It does not surprise me. Surely, incidents, but minor incidents and I noticed the mobilization on election day and, in the conditions of extreme difficulty in which the elections took place, I really want to congratulate you, Minister.

Marcel Vela: Thank you very much.

Ludovic Orban: Minister Cîţu, I have been to several meetings with the business community and there is a certain concern and expectation related to October 25, the date on which the deadline I set expires and I would like to know exactly what the business environment may expect after October 25th.

Florin Cîţu: It is true, Mr. Prime Minister, already, at the Ministry of Finance, we are working on a draft emergency ordinance which regulates the payment rescheduling, in a simplified form, of the budgetary obligations. We know very well that, on October 25, some of these measures expire, but, at the same time, we know very well that there are sectors of the economy that have not yet recovered one hundred percent and then ...

Ludovic Orban: Yes, there are sectors that are working, they resumed their activity, almost to normality, and sectors which are still affected. I attended a meeting today with the representatives of the hospitality industry which were very worried.

Florin Cîţu: We also took into account their situation. The idea is that we have these ordinances that will regulate the payment rescheduling in a simplified form. It is a 12-month rescheduling for budget obligations accumulated when the state of emergency was included, until October 25, 2020, including. Therefore, during all this period in which obligations have accumulated, we can reschedule them, provided that the debtors have not registered outstanding tax obligations at the date of entry into the state of emergency, so they were still good payers before .. .

Ludovic Orban: Before the state of emergency was declared.

Florin Cîţu: Yes. Therefore, it's a simplified form of incentive...

Ludovic Orban: Basically, the rescheduling of the debts accumulated during this period should only work for the debts that are actually accumulated ...

Florin Cîţu: Accumulated in the state of emergency, and until October 25.

Ludovic Orban: Until October 25.

Florin Cîţu: Because there were certain sectors that were closed, they faced difficulties and then we allow them to reschedule for 12 months, of course, without penalties and so on. For HoReCa, Mr Prime Minister, we propose and we will have stipulated, also in the emergency ordinance, the exemption from paying the tax for the remaining period, until the end of 2020.

Ludovic Orban: Until December 31. The specific tax.

Florin Cîţu: Specific. It was exempt during the emergency period, another 90 days followed and then we proposed to go until the end of the year and you have said this before, you mentioned then for ...

Ludovic Orban: I gave the ordinance by which I allowed the local authorities to take decisions to reduce the building tax by up to 50% and to reduce the building tax for rented buildings and also to reduce the public domain occupancy tax of 100%. This measure should have been extended. There are local authorities that have given and local authorities that have not given. But let's give them the opportunity to prolong.

Florin Cîţu: It's the option we've been thinking about so far, but it will be for next week. And we will see what the final form is, granting the power to local authorities to take decisions to reduce building taxes and fees by up to 50% of the 2020 tax by December 1, 2020. Taxpayers will apply for approval of the reduction until December 15, 2020. This is the version we are working on now, but we will discuss the details next week. Therefore, this is the ordinance that we are preparing next week to make this transition easier.

Of course, I tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that we will have discussions, we will have to have discussions with the financial-banking sector for what ensues after January 1, when it expires ...

Ludovic Orban: Well, this area should be regulated as well. I mean, I wouldn't want to be asked for those who have benefited from deferrals, and here we have to think, possibly, a rescheduling, here we will have to have a dialogue with the business sector.

Florin Cîţu: Exactly. That is why I am announcing that we will have a dialogue with the financial-banking system for the transition period, for what follows after January 1. Thank you!

Ludovic Orban: All right. Thank you, Minister! Minister Aurescu. We established the voting preparation group in the diaspora and I would like to know what the situation is and think of a communication plan for Romanians in the diaspora.

Bogdan Aurescu: Mr Prime Minister, ever since June, Romania’s missions abroad were instructed to contact competent foreign authorities in the countries of origin in order to assess what the real possibilities are to organize the polling stations on the territories of these states and in order to get informed regarding the healthcare protection measures that must be observed during the voting process. We have already answers from several states, we currently have a clear situation.

Ludovic Orban: Are there countries that do not allow us to organize polling stations?

Bogdan Aurescu: So far, only two countries, Malta and Nigeria, have communicated ...

Ludovic Orban: I heard from a political leader that we cannot vote anywhere in the world.

Bogdan Aurescu: No. It is wrong.

Ludovic Orban: So, Malta and Nigeria.

Bogdan Aurescu: The only two states that, at this moment, have officially communicated, in writing, that polling stations cannot be organized on their territories are Malta and Nigeria. Otherwise, there are agreements in principle or preliminary agreements from some states, such as: Austria, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, France, Germany, the Republic of Moldova, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, the United States, Hungary, Turkey, and there are others who have communicated this agreement in principle, of course, taking into account the evolution of the epidemiological situation, and the final details on the organization of elections and their implementation, in strict compliance with the rules of health protection and safety, to be established later, obviously depending on the evolution of the pandemic, which is objective.

Ludovic Orban: I understand that there are countries that allow us to organize polling stations, but they only allow us in the headquarters of diplomatic missions, embassies, consular offices.

Bogdan Aurescu: Exactly. There are also states that traditionally, in practice, not only in terms of Romania, but in terms of any other state that would organize polling stations on their territory, allow the organization only in the headquarters of diplomatic missions. An example is Canada, in this respect.

Ludovic Orban: I ask you to draw up a communication plan, so that the Romanians, in each country, know exactly how to vote and, obviously, to recommend them to register as many as possible in the voting by mail, for that this is the reality. We now have agreements in principle, but all agreements are probably conditioned by the evolution of the pandemic.

Bogdan Aurescu: Indeed, all these agreements depend on the evolution of the pandemic, which no one can predict at the moment. These issues related to the epidemiological situation and the decisions which are taken by the health authorities in the respective countries are not negotiable, because they are determined by the evolution of the pandemic, which is not predictable. In fact, tomorrow, together with the President of the Permanent Electoral Authority, I will hold a press conference at 5:00 p.m. in which I will present the state of preparedness of the vote abroad from the perspective of the obligations of the two institutions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AEP.

Ludovic Orban: Thank you, Minister. Minister Popescu, when is the call for investment grants and working capital, launched?

Virgil Popescu: Mr Prime Minister, as I told you at the last meeting, I launched the first stage of the call. So far, more than 30,000 companies are pre-registered. We are in negotiations with the Ministry of European Funds and we hope to finalize this week the contract by which the ministry ...

Ludovic Orban: Do you know how it is, Minister? Companies not only want to pre-register, but companies would also like to access the money as soon as possible.

Virgil Popescu: You are right, Prime Minister. I hope we complete- and Minister Bolos is here – to complete the contract between the Ministry of European Funds and the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, as administrators of this scheme, after which, obviously, we immediately launch /.../

Ludovic Orban: Minister Bolos.

Marcel Boloş: As stated by Minister Popescu, tomorrow we will conclude the financing contract between the Ministry of Funds and the Ministry of Economy, after which the Ministry of Economy, on Monday or at the latest on Tuesday, may ...

Ludovic Orban: When do you operationalize the scheme, and when do you sign the contract?

Virgil Popescu: Mr Prime Minister, next week we will release it if we sign the contract tomorrow.

Ludovic Orban: If you sign tomorrow. I will personally follow this topic. Minister Oros, I am interested in two situations: the situation of payments for farmers whose areas have been affected by the drought and when do we start payments per hectare, subsidies per hectare?

Adrian Oros: Mr Prime Minister, I have here the final situation regarding the state aid granted for the crops established in the autumn of 2019 affected by the drought. The money reached the farmers' accounts. There are 27,861 beneficiaries. 850 million lei were paid, and the affected area was 1,116,860 hectares.

Ludovic Orban: But did all the farmers who are entitled, receive the money?

Adrian Oros: Yes. The money went into everyone's accounts, after the necessary administrative controls were done.

Ludovic Orban: You say that at this time all the payments were made and that the money went into the farmers' account.

Adrian Oros: Yes. They did as of last week.

Ludovic Orban: All right.

Adrian Oros: Today, through an Executive Decision, we will approve the number of direct payments per area and the ceiling for zootechnical coupled aid for sheep and goat species. Basically, starting October 16, 2020, the Agency for Payments and Interventions for Agriculture can grant and will grant advance payments within the direct payment schemes in the vegetal and zootechnical sector, in a maximum percentage of 70%.

Ludovic Orban: To what percent we make the payment? 70 percent? What do you mean by maximum of 70 percent?

Adrian Oros: 70 percent of the final amount, we can pay it in advance. It is about one billion euro, money to be reimbursed in early January, by the Commission. The sums for direct payments in the vegetal sector are the following: the single payment scheme – 98, 7 euro per hectare, redistributive payment for small and medium-sized farms – 5 euros per hectare, between 1 and 5 hectares, and 48 hectares – between 5 and 30 hectares, payment for greening - 57.8 euros per hectare and payment for young farmers - 36.6 euros per hectare. Also, the ceiling for direct payments for the coupled aid scheme for sheep and goat species is EUR 71 million, and the unitary amount is EUR 17.9 per head. More than 800,000 farmers will benefit from these forms of aid.

Ludovic Orban: Thank you, Minister. All ministers who have subordinate control institutions - Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Labor - ITM, Ministry of Transport - ISCTR, A.N.S.V.S.A. and all other structures I want you to prepare an intensified action plan so that we ensure compliance with health protection measures. We are facing a clear increase in the number of cases and our goal must be to limit the number of cases. For this reason, we will have to be extremely present. A daily control plan, a daily report on these controls performed. Again I feel that the guard has been lowered, the degree of compliance has decreased and in the conditions in which, basically, we have allowed the resumption of almost all activities under normal conditions, there is an increase in social interaction, or, if we do not ensure compliance, we risk an inadmissible increase in the number of cases. In this respect, too, Minister Tătaru, including the DSPs(Public Health Directorates), must be fully involved in these actions, especially at the level of hospitals and, in any case, we must be prepared for any situation, Minister.

Nelu Tătaru: Yes, I prepared, I also announced. 10%  of intensive care beds, the reactivation of all COVID support hospitals that have been so far and cross-checks that the DSP will do in counties ...

Ludovic Orban: Please consider reusing Colentina Hospital ...

Nelu Tataru: Yes, I considered.

Ludovic Orban: Because in Bucharest, according to the evolution of the number of infections, we have an extremely difficult situation. Also, together with the Ministry of Transport, operationalize, the Witting Hospital, because there, the intensive care department is a recent investment, it is at an extremely good level of endowment, doctors must be ensured by secondment.

Nelu Tătaru: All I have to do is the requests. I had this discussion. It remains for the management to do ...

Ludovic Orban: Together with the Minister, you call on the director of the hospital to take all the measures for the operationalization of the department; if not, they can go home. Minister?

Nelu Tătaru: All right, Mr. Prime Minister. I communicated the requests to the doctors.

Ludovic Orban: Thank you! Thanks to the media!

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