Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and other members of the Cabinet at the start of the Cabinet meeting of September 24

24 September

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Ludovic Orban: Good evening. I propose we start the Cabinet meeting. I took the decision to support the students who are the beneficiaries of social scholarships for universities with online courses, to defray from European funds, in the limit of 50 million euros, the tablets which are purchased. Are we ready here, Secretary of State Moraru?

Carmen Moraru: Yes, Mr. Prime Minister. The ordinance including several amendments of some legislative documents comprised this amendment too.

Ludovic Orban: We also have the provision of hot meals for pensioners with a lower pension than the social pension. Did you include it as well?

Carmen Moraru: Yes, Prime Minister, we have included it. Amendment of Ordinance 115. Please note that we have also included the amendment of Ordinance 144 for state universities, they will benefit from funds for the purchase of protective equipment and some nebulizer devices worth another 10 million, compared to 50 million which we have already approved. For this new category of beneficiaries, we have supplemented the amount with another 10 million euros.

Ludovic Orban: And while we are at the chapter of increasing the level of defrayment, are we prepared to increase the defrayment ceiling from European funds on healthcare expenses occasioned by COVID?

Carmen Moraru: Yes, Mr. Prime Minister. In the same document, an emergency ordinance amending some normative acts, we also prepared the amendment of Ordinance 43 and proposed the supplementation of the defrayment ceiling for these types of equipment to one billion two hundred.

Ludovic Orban: One billion two hundred million, right?

Carmen Moraru: Exactly.

Ludovic Orban: This is through reallocations from the other programs.

Carmen Moraru: A part from REACT-EU and a part, most likely, from what we will try to save from POIM. I specify that at this moment we have projects submitted of one billion euros and another 150 drafts that we can see in the system and also from axis 9 from where we defray the cost of medical equipment, the cost of the equipment for schools, and the protective equipment and devices, and also of the medical containers.

 Ludovic Orban: Thank you, Secretary of State. Minister Cîţu, when does the state aid scheme for guaranteeing loans for large companies become operational?

Florin Cîţu: Next week. Today we finalized the agreement with Eximbank. /.../ from next week....

Ludovic Orban: What else is it necessary? Approval in CIFGA, right?

Florin Cîţu: Exactly. It is debated by CIFGA and it then should be operational.

Ludovic Orban: Convene a meeting of CIFGA and make the decision once, that there is a high expectation regarding this state aid scheme because we have applied for SMEs, we have to offer this scheme for large companies as well.

Florin Cîţu: Yes.

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, next week it becomes operational, right?

Florin Cîţu: Yes, today, we finalized the convention.

Ludovic Orban: Ministry of Economy representative, we have two schemes, guaranteeing tourism vouchers ....

Daniela Nicolescu: We shall introduce this on the additional agenda.

Ludovic Orban: And the scheme for small businesses in the shopping malls, which is included in the program. What is its stage?

Daniela Nicolescu: The one with the vouchers is in the first reading and that's why we ask you to introduce it on the agenda, on the additional agenda...

Ludovic Orban: All right.

Daniela Nicolescu: ... and the one with rents we would like to think if we can't have more beneficiaries, respectively to take into account the shopping centers with five thousand square meters, from five thousand square meters upwards.

Ludovic Orban: You know very well that the scheme is approved for those areas that have been restricted. It remains to be seen to what extent our partners agree or disagree on this issue. That's how I know I'd like to expand to all traders. On the other hand, there were restrictions that were imposed only on certain categories of shopping centres.

Daniela Nicolescu: That's right, Prime Minister.

Ludovic Orban: These must be verified because we can't wait, it's an aid scheme that we promised, we can use it and I ask you to come with the normative act.

Daniela Nicolescu: Next week.

Ludovic Orban: We have two more issues to resolve at the Ministry of Economy. Launch of the call for projects for the one billion euros for loans, investment grants and grants for working capital.

Daniela Nicolescu: Pre-registration has already been done. After the amendments to Ordinance 130 are adopted, today, I say that in a few days we will release grant 1 and 2.  We will offer it in a phased way, at two –day difference.

Ludovic Orban: We must release it no later than October 1.

Daniela Nicolescu: Surely!

Ludovic Orban: So here too there is an expectation in the market and the business sector...

Daniela Nicolescu: I think it will reach the "Official Gazette" tomorrow, so we can from Monday ....

Ludovic Orban: We also have the issue with COS Targoviste. I asked the minister to present me a solution for COS Targoviste.

Daniela Nicolescu: I identified the solution together with the other ministries and with the Competition Council. The solution is to take over the net assets by taking over the budget receivables. The liquidator will draw a new restructuring plan dividing COS Târgovişte, and our company ....

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, there are four assets there, which are operational and which can produce things that the Romanian market has a deficit of.

Daniela Nicolescu: That’s the idea.

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, that is a malicious initiation of liquidation procedures.

Daniela Nicolescu: Categorically!

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, the Russian owner simply made a hostile takeover and wants to close a plant manufacturing products that the Romanian market has a deficit of.

Daniela Nicolescu: Think that we export scrap metal at 240 euros per tonne and import at 480 per steel-concrete. Last year, we imported about 780 tons of steel-concrete. Considering the infrastructure projects that will start, COS Târgoviște must be necessarily made operational. We have already achieved something: the employees who were supposed to be fired on September 14 were not fired and now we are waiting for the company liquidator to do ...

Ludovic Orban: So, to understand: you are proposing the conversion of receivables into shares or ...

Daniela Nicolescu: No. We take over the net assets, after which conversion of receivables into shares is being made. Initially, the liquidator splits the COS in two.  The Ministry of Economy establishes a new company, which will take over part of the main part.

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, practically, it divides the assets that are functional ...

Daniela Nicolescu: Exactly. COS Targoviste will remain shareholder...

Ludovic Orban: ...which can generate the products and assets which are out of use..

Daniela Nicolescu: Yes. We take all assets, all personnel, the license – we take everything, except...

Ludovic Orban: Once you reach this understanding, you should come up with...

Daniela Nicolescu: The majority shareholder agrees, the liquidator agrees, steps have been taken.

Ludovic Orban: Thank you. Ministry of Agriculture – did you make the payment of compensations for the areas hit by drought?

George Scarlat: Mr. Prime Minister, all the money is in the farmers’ accounts. Today, in certain counties, there were small problems regarding the submission of applications, payment was made to commercial banks. Therefore, all the money allocated for this measure were sent to commercial banks – to farmers.

 Ludovic Orban: And the remaining 18 percent ...when?

George Scarlat: We are waiting for a /.../

Ludovic Orban: We see if we can allocate it from the reserve fund or we are waiting for budgetary revision.

George Scarlat: All right.

Ludovic Orban: When do you start payments per hectare?

George Scarlat: We are prepared. On the evening of October 16, we will kick off the advance payments on SAPS for the agricultural year 2020- 2021.

Ludovic Orban: I understand. I had several meetings with the farmers and they are asking us – you discussed with them too, if we cannot generate a measure to postpone rates for a period of time, eventually, until the next crop, so that they can cope ...

George Scarlat: In this regard, we, the Ministry of Agriculture, have drafted the substantiation note and we have the draft emergency ordinance on the extension of rates on both investment loans and working capital loans up to 12 months, but we must first talk. The initiator is the Ministry of Finance. I think that, together with my colleagues from the Ministry of Finance, next week we will complete the draft emergency ordinance and we will come up with it in the first reading, in the next Cabinet meeting.(...)

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