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Wednesday, 03 August 2022

Cabinet meeting of August 3, 2022

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Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă: Good afternoon. We have begun the Cabinet meeting in continuation of the prior activity, the meeting of the inter-department committee for sustainable development. I discussed with the Head of the Department for Sustainable Development aspects regarding the implementation of the strategy of sustainable development as well as the action plan related to this strategy, to be approved in June and also the indicators for each Ministry. The relations of cooperation have been very clearly established at the level of each Ministry, and the centralization and coordination at the level of the sustainable department and the steps we need to further take to concentrate both the resources and the concrete activity in line with the directions assumed under the strategy.

In today’s Cabinet meeting, we will discuss an entire set of decisions on the Government’s agenda. I will start with the issues related to the inter-ministerial working group established to assess the impact of the drought and I will give the floor to Minister Daea not before clarifying some issues related to the summer agricultural campaign. I understand that we are close to finalizing the wheat harvesting and here, I think it is very important to outline the “Support for Romania” package when we granted those allowances in the amount of 10 percent to the Romanian farmers who are processing the harvest in the agri-food sector in Romania. We established a ceiling at the level of the Government, of 200 million euros to encourage this step. We need to stimulate both farmers and agri-food industry producers so that as I have discussed, we can have greater added value products.

I further insisted on processing as the sale is the simplest operation. Anyone can sell. But the processing part, as I mentioned earlier and as we discussed every time, is the one that helps us in everything that means capitalizing on resources and products. That's why I insist on processing, and we established at the government level the bonus for those who process in Romania. Therefore, let's see how we can support this effort, and how we can talk to farmers from the agri-food industry to better cooperate, to be able to communicate and identify how they can process these products here in the country.

Here I would have something else to add, namely beyond the fact that we are all looking at how to solve the problem and to carry out this whole campaign in such a way as to avoid losses as much as possible at the end of the harvest. We had discussions and meetings where we also expressed concerns about the animal husbandry sector.

We are moving to the health sector. Minister, today we approve the law on the financing of the Craiova Regional Emergency Hospital, it will align with the other two emergency hospitals from Cluj and Iaşi, and I am confident that we will probably start the projects which will be carried out, taking into account the fact that we also have about two billion euros allocated through the PNRR and a waiting list that needs to be operationalized and I hope to have a decision on this as soon as possible. Through this law, as of today, we are discussing an estimated investment of approximately 600 million, of which 368 will be provided by the European Investment Bank. It is very important to be able to use all the financial instruments at our disposal and to prioritize all the objectives so that we can strengthen the Public Health Service.

The third topic on our agenda is energy. We have a draft law amending Law 85/ 2018 on the establishment and maintenance of minimum reserves of oil and petroleum products. It is one aspect, the second one pertains to gas stocks. At this moment, Romania has managed to create stock in warehouses of over 1.8 billion cubic meters and in this way, through governmental measures, we make sure that all the measures are taken to prepare in time for the 2022 -2023 winter. It is also very important to announce that during this period Romgaz completed the takeover of the stake in the Neptun Deep project from Exxon.

Fulfilling these storage targets and compliance with European graphs is important but beyond this, we need the coherent provision of gas from our production and to have the necessary amounts during winter time, when the temperature fell below minus 15 degrees and I would ask you to present a few details regarding the steps you have taken so far.

The chairman of the Competition Council is here too. Taking into account the evolution of the energy price, first of all, we take into account the difference between the producer average price and the price at which the energy is sold on the market. I ask the Competition Council together with ANRE, with all those with responsibilities in this field to check this evolution of the price, because as I could understand from everything that means energy production and sale, the next day's market had to be a balancing one. Or, we can see today that it has become a consolidated energy trading market, and please check whether or not speculative elements of energy trading are present here.

Last week I paid a working visit to Alba county, to CupruMin. I wanted to see on-site how this company operates, how the mineral resources are exploited and what are our possibilities for capitalizing on these mineral resources. We have copper resources for many, many years to come, a reason that must be taken into account by each of us who can find solutions for the processing of copper ore in Romania. There I made sure that jobs are still protected and secured as it is a particularly important resource for all the developments in our economic consolidation plans and as we committed today we will approve a memorandum by which we ensure that 50% of the company's profit to be used in investments, basically it's a decision we take just like we did for Hidroelectrica, Nuclearelectrica and Transgaz. Even the management of state-owned companies must understand that they can only develop through investment. There is availability at the government level for these investments and in this way we bring our part of the support for the Romanian industry and the state companies provided that the management of each company achieves performance, and can manage the activity and the profit so that they can improve all production capabilities. I understood that there is availability, they still have knowledge on the metallurgy side in the area of Alba County. As such, Mr Minister, as we have discussed, please put forward proposals regarding the decisions and the measures that we can take at the governmental level, so that the copper ore from Romania is processed in Romania and we can develop those capabilities as you presented them and as we approved them in the coalition, for the development of the industry of conductors, semiconductors and so on.

Presently, there are significant amounts at the level of the European Union regarding the development of our capabilities for the production of microchips and semiconductors in the European Union. As such, please talk to the Minister of Investments and European Projects and find a solution so that we can finance this industry.

Mr Minister Dîncu, please agree that the draft law on the status of military personnel should be addressed together with the other laws in the field of national defence and security. Therefore, I ask for the postponement of debate on this draft law until the moment when the whole package is submitted. The package of laws on defence and national security should be addressed by late August. Thank you.

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