Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban at the start of the Cabinet meeting

16 January

Ludovic Orban: The first point on the meeting agenda:  the draft law for the ratification of the additional protocol signed in Bucharest, on May 27, 2019, to the agreement between the Romanian Government and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt on the land ownership right acquisition by the diplomatic missions of the two states, signed in Bucharest. Draft law for the ratification of the loan agreement, the basic program of results in the health sector, between Romania and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, signed in New York on September 23, 2019. Minister of Health?

Victor Costache: Please accept the withdrawal of this draft law from the working agenda of the Cabinet meeting. It is motivated by the need to closely analyze the following components: the risk associated with reaching the L1, L2 and L4 result indicators, which condition the withdrawal of payment instalments, the L6, L7, L8 indicators, in terms of budgetary impact and the feasibility of the solutions, and of the expenses in point c, of the expenses with the commitment commission associated with points a and b. And we request a renegotiation of this agreement ...

Ludovic Orban: Therefore, Minister, if it is the agreement we have analyzed, it must be renegotiated.

Victor Costache: Absolutely.

Ludovic Orban: There is about a loan, and if we still take a loan, it must be intended for improving the quality of services, that is to say, it should be intended for investment in hospital infrastructure and other categories of expenses, to improve the quality of services. That agreement contains a few points which effectively concern money, not leading to any improvement of the health services provided to patients.

Victor Costache: It was totally uninspired negotiation and please allow us to ...

Ludovic Orban: So, we will withdraw it from the agenda and we will discuss an agreement renegotiation alignment.

Victor Costache: Thank you, Prime Minister.

Ludovic Orban: Draft law for the ratification of the Sixth Additional Protocol, signed at Skopje on June 12, 2019, to the agreement on the multinational peacekeeping force in Southeast Europe, signed at Skopje on September 26, 1998. Draft government decision approving the amendment agreed between the Government of Romania and the Development Bank of the Council of Europe on the exchange of letters, signed in Bucharest on August 21, 2019, and in Paris, on August 30, 2019, at the framework loan agreement between Romania and the Development Bank of the Council of Europe for the financing of the project regarding the completion of the construction, renovation and rehabilitation of the cultural buildings of public interest in Romania, signed in Bucharest, on May 4, 2007, and in Paris, on May 14, 2007. Draft decision approving the amendment agreed by exchange of letters signed in Bucharest, on June 27, 2019, and in Paris on July 26, 2019, between the Government Romania and the Development Bank of the Council of Europe at the loan agreement between Romania and the Development Bank of the Council of Europe, signed on July 12, 2007, in Bucharest, and on July 26, 2007, in Paris, to finance the project "Early education reform in Romania".

Draft decision on the organization and functioning of the Ministry of Education and Research, draft decision to amend and supplement the Government Decision no. 1486/2015 on ensuring the protection of the objectives, assets and values ​​with gendarmes. The draft decision for updating the inventory value and the identification data of a building that is in the public domain of the state and the administration of the prefect of Satu Mare county under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, draft decision for amending position number 32 in the addendum to the Government Decision no. 706/1994 regarding the passing of the administrative palaces of the county residence municipalities in the administration of the prefect's institutions and for updating the inventory value and the identification data of a building that is in the public domain of the state, and the administration of the prefecture of the Salaj County Prefecture, subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Draft decision regarding the amendment of the Addendum no. 16 to the Government Decision no. 1705/2006 for approving the centralized inventory of public goods of the state. Draft decision on granting Romanian citizenship to Mr. Manumua Tevita. Draft decision on the approval of the model of the coat of arms of the town of Vișeu de Sus, Maramureș county, draft decision on the approval of the coat of arms of Biertan commune, Sibiu county, draft decision on the approval of the coat of arms of Scăești commune, Dolj county, draft decision on the approval of the coat of arms of the Salcioara, Dambovita county, draft decision regarding the approval of the coat of arms of Tăcuta commune, Vaslui county, draft decision for the approval of the model of the coat of arms of Nades commune, Mures county, draft decision for the approval of the coat of arms of Targsor commune, Constanta county, draft decisions on relieve of duty, appointment of prefects and/ or deputy prefects.

In the memorandums we have: the memorandum with the theme "The principle agreement of the Government of Romania regarding the contracting from the European Investment Bank of a financing incentive of up to 250 million euros for the partial coverage of the additional contribution of the state budget, to the financing of the Operational Programme Large Infrastructure 2014-2020, priority axis three, development of environmental infrastructure in conditions of efficient management of resources ", memorandum with the theme" Framing the state scheme individual aid or de minimis aid in the economic-budgetary and financial policies of the Romanian state ", memorandum with the theme "Constitution of the competent authority, in accordance with the provisions of the EU Regulation 941/2019 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019, on the preparation for risks in the electricity sector and repealing Directive 89/2005", memorandum with the theme " Approval of negotiation and signing of the revised draft of the Memorandum of Implementation of arrangements between the Member States involved in the Romania-Hungary Interreg V-A Program by the Government of Romania ".

Notes: note on informing the Government of Romania about the progress of negotiations with the anti-corruption network of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development regarding the financing of the network.

Points of view. We have several points of view on some draft laws initiated by previous governments, points of view on legislative initiatives initiated by MPs, in parliamentary procedure, according to the opinion expressed by the ministries, the institutions consulted. We also have confidential documents. Proposals for the inclusion of draft normative acts in the agenda. Minister Vela.

Marcel Vela: Mr Prime Minister, I propose a draft law on amending Law 115 from 2015 for the election of the local public administration authorities.

Ludovic Orban: It is about the draft law on the election of mayors in two rounds, with 50 % plus 1.

Marcel Vela: Yes.

Ludovic Orban: As you well know, the National Liberal Party supports the election of mayors with half plus one of the citizens expressing the vote in local elections. More than two years ago, I initiated a draft law exactly to transpose this will of people to improve the way of electing mayors, conferring greater legitimacy to these mayors by imposing the obligation for the mayors to be elected by 50 % plus 1 of the voters. This draft law was irregularly sent through a decision of the reunited Standing Bureaus, to an Electoral Code Committee about to conclude its mandate, to prevent introducing in the plenum of the Chamber of Deputies and the adoption of the draft law by the plenum of the Chamber of Deputies. As such, dear colleagues, obviously, following my talks with the Minister and other colleagues, we made the decision to take responsibility before Parliament on the bill regarding two-round mayoral elections.

Since the investiture of our Cabinet, we made very clear that we take all necessary steps, what is correct and democratic, and what citizens, and not the people in power, desire. Of course, many mayors may want elections in one round, as it is easier for them to preserve their position due to this system. Following an analysis, we could notice that there are very many mayors, who, due to this system, without having achieved any performance in the administration of their localities, without any development plan of their local communities, they manage to get re-elected, due to the distribution of votes to the other counter-candidates, and due to the fact that, as a rule, especially in rural areas, but also in urban areas a mayor has a form of control on vulnerable persons, those dependent on the townhall – dependant in all ways, from social aid to certificate issued to benefit from APIA payments, and other forms of dependence.

 From our point of view, to improve the performance of the local administration it is vital that the mayors are elected by half plus one of the citizens of a local community in order to really have the legitimacy to put into practice the development programmes and to actually have the capacity because the existence of a second-round entails negotiation over a majority in the local councils that allows the implementation of a development plan.

It is time to do what the people want and as such we have made the decision to assume responsibility for electing the mayors in two rounds. Of course, we made this decision when it became obvious that those who are still at Parliament’s helm will preserve this undemocratic way of the mayors and that there is no chance that through the parliamentary debate and the vote in the plenary sitting of the Chamber of Deputies we will manage to improve the electoral system for the local elections. Of course, that will probably bother those at Parliament’s helm, but we must take on the risk, because the government has an obligation to intervene where things are not working properly and to improve democratic mechanisms, and basically, the election of mayors in two rounds represents an obvious improvement of democratic mechanisms with beneficial effects on the management of localities in Romania, in the end, with beneficial effects on the chance to improve the daily of each Romanian. Therefore, I approve the introduction on the agenda and clearly, we will assume responsibility for this draft law. Other proposals.

Nicolae Ciucă: Mr Prime Minister, please approve the draft government decision on the commencement of the expropriation procedures of the privately-owned buildings that constitute the corridor of expropriation of the public utility work of national interest, the infrastructure of the 57 Air Base of Barracks 888 "Mihail Kogălniceanu ".

Ludovic Orban: It's about the airport ...

Nicolae Ciuca: This is the basis where we co-locate with the structures of the United States.

Ludovic Orban: Yes, it is approved!

Nicolae Ciuca: Thank you.

Ludovic Orban: Minister Violeta Alexandru.

Violeta Alexandru: Mr Prime Minister, please consider the introduction on the agenda of an emergency ordinance to extend the entry into force of Article 1, point 1 of Law 14/2020 on the approval of the Government Emergency Ordinance 9 / 2019 for amending and supplementing Law 61/1993 on the state child benefit, as well as for amending Article 58 para. 1 of Law 448/2006 on the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. I come to you with this request, considering that on January 6, the Law 5/2020 of the state budget was promulgated. Subsequent to its promulgation, the Law 14/2020 was promulgated in 14.02, as mentioned above, which practically doubles the amount of the state child benefit, including children with disabilities. This puts us in a position to search in the next period the budgetary resources that today are not provided for in the approved state budget; therefore, the proposal is to introduce this ordinance on the meeting agenda, with the proposal that the implementation of its provisions is postponed until 1 August. Thank you.

Ludovic Orban: So, in order to clarify the issue of child benefit, we have to say a few very simple things. Since 2008, increases in child benefits have been made at the initiative of the National Liberal Party: in 2015, for the first time, while in seven years, almost no child benefit had been increased, and subsequently in 2019. The emergence of this draft law, its unexpected appearance, by which, in 2019, when we have practically succeeded in increasing child benefits through the debate on the State Budget Law, has created a very big problem for us. Here you need to know that the budgetary effort required to sustain a new doubling of child benefits, practically, the second doubling in 2019, is over 6 billion; this occurs in the context in which the budget for this year has to cope with some increases of costs with pensions and salaries due to laws in force at the moment of Government investiture. Surely that we want to increase the child benefits and we will do it, however, the child benefits increased starting January 1, following a draft law which was initiated by us, and which instituted a mechanism of annual increase of child benefit to recover the loss of purchasing power through inflation. Basically, even if we desire to increase child benefits, we could not do it, because the entry into force of this draft law is subsequent to the entry into force of the state budget law and the state social security budget law. We have the possibility to make the budget rectification in order to be able to allocate amounts for additional expenditure, such as the case of this spending, only at the budgetary rectification which we can make, only after July 1, in line with effective regulations.

Of course, if we get additional revenues, we can make a rectification as we pledged, we will not rise any tax or duty, as such, it is basically impossible to enforce this draft law that bears the mark of the PSD specific demagoguery and populism. I agree with its inclusion on the meeting agenda, we will have to see how the economy, the budget receipts will evolve. We will increase the child benefits upon budget rectification, so that this child benefit increase be based on real financial resources, be sustainable, and lead to improving conditions for children, I repeat: we will hold a discussion, Minister, regarding the way of increasing child benefits.

Victor Costache: Mr Prime Minister, please accept the inclusion in the additional list of the meeting agenda of the Cabinet meeting of the Government Decision on amending Government Decision 144 of 2010 on the organization and functioning of the Health Ministry.

Ludovic Orban: I approved it. This draft Executive decision was read on December 30. Minister Costel Alexe.

Costel Alexe: Mr Prime Minister, allow me to tell you that I would like us to include on the meeting agenda the Draft Executive Decision on the organization and functioning of the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests...

Ludovic Orban: I agree...

Costel Alexe: A brief information on the solution found by the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests regarding the implementation of the infrastructure projects from the perspective of the eventual environmental issues which might emerge.

Ludovic Orban: You refer...

Costel Alexe: Currently, we have encountered all kind of problems on the five motorway sections Romania has, because of biodiversity issues. We held talks with the colleagues of the European Funds Ministry and we found a solution to fund through POIM 4.1 A, all these studies on management plans and the implementation of specific measures, so that, when we reach the feasibility studies stage, we encounter no problem, as we encountered on Transylvania Motorway, and obviously, we do not want to reach such situations anymore, we are facing such issues, because of previous government’s indifference.

 Antonel Tanase, Secretary-general of the Government: please agree to include on the meeting agenda of a draft Executive Decision on measures to be established at the level of the central public administration and for amending some normative acts, it is about the Authority for Romania’s Digitalization, and we will supplement it in order to clarify overlapping aspects in the powers of the Ministry of Transports, Infrastructure and Communications.

Ludovic Orban: This clarification is absolutely necessary. Did you agree with the Ministry of Transports, Infrastructure and Communications on this?

Antonel Tanase: Yes, we discussed. That is a draft law, the second, a draft decision, if you also agree on updating the value of some buildings included in Addendum 19 to the Executive Decision 1715/ 2006 on approving the centralized inventory of the goods in the public sector, administered by the Presidential Administration.

Ludovic Orban: I approve it.

Antonel Tanase: Thank you very much.

Ludovic Orban: Minister of Economy.

Virgil –Daniel Popescu: Mr Prime Minister, I would ask you to introduce on the additional meeting agenda the draft executive decision on the organization and functioning of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, under the reserve of receiving the last approval of the Justice Ministry.

Ludovic Orban: We already have taken them over. I approve it. Minister Monica Anisie, please.

Monica Anisie: Mr Prime Minister, please, approve the inclusion on the additional list of the draft emergency ordinance to supplement article 284 of the National Education Law 1 of 2011. This supplement is necessary to harmonize the special character of the National Education Law with the Labor Code provisions and the decision of the Constitutional Court 387 of 2018.

Ludovic Orban: All right.

Monica Anisie: Thank you.

Ludovic Orban: Minister of infrastructure, transport and communications.

Lucian Bode: Mr Prime Minister, please approve supplementing the agenda with a draft memorandum to grant aid to TAROM S.A. National Company for 2020, supplemented with restructuring aid.

Ludovic Orban: So this is what we discussed at the European Commission level, with Mrs. Vice-President Vestager.

Lucian Bode: Exactly.

Ludovic Orban: All right.

Lucian Bode: Thank you.

Ludovic Orban: Minister of Culture and then, we give the floor to the Head of the Prime Minister Chancellery.

Bogdan Gheorghiu: Thank you, Prime Minister. I would raise, in today's sitting, the Roşia Montană topic, but, if I may, I would like to make brief information first, because erroneous information was communicated publicly. I have been discussing since morning, with specialists from the National Heritage Institute and I am sure that the final deadline is not February 1, 2020, as alleged, but February 1, 2021. The International Council on Monuments and Sites, the consultative body of /.../.

Ludovic Orban: Minister, it is about resuming the procedure of including in UNESCO heritage of the Roman mines from Rosia Montana, and of the site...

Bogdan Gheorghiu: Precisely. This must be decided at the level of the Government, as there is a lawsuit pending. We mention the fact that the Public Finance Ministry is the institution that coordinates Romania’s defence in this case.

I would return to this deadline, February 1, 2020, which was submitted as the final deadline, it only means whether or not this file enters the July meeting, the final deadline being February 2021. So ...

Ludovic Orban: No, but here I say it is pointless to postpone issues. It would be good to make a decision as quickly as possible on this topic. My request is to consult all the pending ministries, the Ministry of Finance, as well as the other ministries related to the field so that you come up with a proposal in the Cabinet meeting.

Bogdan Gheorghiu: At the next meeting?

Ludovic Orban: As soon as possible.

Bogdan Gheorghiu: Thank you.

Ionel Dancă: Mr Prime Minister, please approve the inclusion in the supplementary agenda of a draft ordinance on amending the Ordinance on public-private partnership. In essence, we are talking about other arrangements Vâlcov brand, discovered at various institutions, this time, again, we return to the Prognosis Commission and we propose to cancel the procedures for contracting public-private partnership investments initiated by the National Strategy and Prognosis Commission. We refer mainly to two major infrastructure projects, namely the Comarnic - Braşov and Târgu Neamț - Iasi highways.

Ludovic Orban: Mr Chancellor, was there a building engineer or a transport engineer in the Prognosis Commission?

Ionel Dancă: No, Mr Prime Minister, special directorates for carrying out these projects were established, that never had employees.

Ludovic Orban: So here things are very clear: I accept its inclusion, we do not adopt it now, because I want, together with the Ministers who have such projects in their portfolio, these projects were taken from the Ministry of Transport, from the Ministry of Economy, from the ministries that were to carry out such contracts and had the competence to do so, I would like to clearly establish, what the action plan is for each of the respective projects, once taken over by the line ministries.

Ionel Dancă: Mr. Prime Minister, this is a first step in unlocking these projects, because regarding both the project for the Comarnic - Brașov highway and the one for the Târgu Neamț - Iași highway, the chosen solution was doomed to failure from the beginning, as, in fact, we also warned several times, and this, the proposal ...

Ludovic Orban: Then how could the previous government publicly state that it declares them, Comarnic – Brasov project, for example, of strategic interest, and that it renounces the public-private partnership? These were just words on ...

Ionel Dancă: From the analysis of the files we have on these projects at the level of the National Commission for Strategy and Prognosis, there are issues with no impact at the level of the respective projects. It was simply a solution to bury them from the project preparation stage, instead of starting procedures to find financing sources, either from non-reimbursable external funds or national funds, which would lead to the achievement of these projects and, as you said, the line ministries will come up with solutions in this regard.

Ludovic Orban: Ok. We include it on the agenda. If you still have others, Minister for Public Works.

Ion Stefan: Mr. Prime Minister, please accept the inclusion in the agenda of the draft government decision to approve the technical-economic indicators of the investment objective of housing for young people for rent in Sibiu county, Mediaş municipality, Gheorghe Lazăr street.

Ludovic Orban: Ok. Mr. Secretary of State.

Secretary of State: Mr Prime Minister, please approve the inclusion in the agenda of the draft Government Decision for the approval of the ceilings allocated to the transitional national aid in the vegetal and zootechnical sector related to requests, the year of application 2019. These are the subsidies that we are granting to the Romanian farmers. As we used to, we continue to pay subsidies to farmers and we inform you that at this time we have authorized the payment of 1.995 billion euros that entered the accounts of farmers in Romania.

Ludovic Orban: Ok. Other proposals? So, with the approved proposals to be introduced on the agenda, we move on to the debate of these normative acts. I thank the media representatives, we will available for questions at the end of the Cabinet meeting.


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