Fresh News

Thursday, 08 July 2021

Press briefing by Prime Minister Florin Cîţu, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Head of the Department of Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat, and the Minister of Environment, Water and Forests, Barna Tánczos

Florin Cîţu: Good afternoon. I'd like to make an announcement. After a discussion with coalition members on Tuesday evening, during which I announced that I had asked for the resignation of the Minister of Public Finance, Minister stated that he does not want to resign and prefers to be removed from office. Today, after another discussion with coalition members, at the first hour, I submitted to President Klaus Iohannis a request to remove Mr Alexandru Nazare from the office of the Minister of Finance.

I also submitted the nomination for interim minister – I am the nominee for Interim Minister of Finance. I repeat, Minister Nazare had the occasion to resign; but he preferred to be dismissed. All coalition leaders were briefed on Tuesday afternoon and we had another discussion with them this morning. As for the reasons: an evaluation has been conducted every six months. There are several things, but in short, the most delayed projects are at the Ministry of Health.

In today’s Cabinet meeting, the Romanian Government has approved a decision to provide free humanitarian aid to the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, to manage the COVID-19 epidemic. The humanitarian aid to the Republic of Moldova consists of 100,620 doses of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, out of the number of doses purchased by the Romanian Ministry of Health. Georgia will receive 10,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of the number of doses purchased by the Ministry of Health.

The vaccine doses will be transported by the Ministry of Interior through the Department for Emergency Situations, the specialized structures under its coordination, or the Ministry of National Defence, as the case may be.

In today's Cabinet meeting, we also approved the Government decision on extending the state of alert - Mr Arafat is here to provide you with the necessary details - and the decision is in the first reading - and Minister Tánczos Barna is here today too, we discussed the emergency ordinance which puts forward solutions for situations in which people's lives are endangered in urban areas by the brown bear. Minister will brief you on the details. If there are questions, one question from each journalist, please. Thank you!

Reporter: Good afternoon! You said you talked to the coalition leaders about this reshuffle. Mr. Ludovic Orban said, however, that he did not know about this reshuffle. Is it a message of strength that you are conveying?

Florin Cîțu: On Tuesday, I informed all the leaders of the coalition of my decision to ask Minister Nazare to resign. This morning I had another discussion with all the coalition leaders regarding Mr. Nazare's decision not to resign and the fact that he preferred to be removed from office.

Reporter: Good afternoon! If you can tell us all the reasons behind the dismissal of Alexandru Nazare and if there is, at the moment, a list of other ministers, because you said that, even at the Ministry of Health, there are delayed projects. Could Ioana Mihăilă be another minister to be dismissed in the next period?

Florin Cîțu: I made the decision after an evaluation, as I said, at six months. Today we are talking about the Ministry of Finance, there are no other discussions; an evaluation on each ministry every day, but what I said is that there are delayed projects at the Ministry of Finance, projects that are important to attract European funds, as well as to eliminate tax evasion. Unfortunately, the most delayed projects are there.

Reporter: You said that you also sent the president a nomination for this portfolio. Can you tell us who the nominee is?

Florin Cîțu: I am the interim Minister. I apologize, maybe I was not very clear, in the dismissal request submitted to the president, and I proposed to take over as Interim Finance Minister.

Reporter: Then do we know who could take over as full Minister?

Florin Cîțu: No, not at the moment.

Reporter: Is Dan Vîlceanu a possible nominee for the future Minister of Finance? And I would also like to ask you if the Minister of Agriculture is also to be reshuffled.

Florin Cîțu: At the moment, we do not have any nomination for the Minister of Finance. During my interim mandate, I will make sure that all projects that are currently delayed, will be restarted and we will correct some of the mistakes immediately.

Reporter: Prime Minister, what were the criteria you used in your evaluation so far and what made you dissatisfied with the ministers in your evaluation?

Florin Cîțu: I have just mentioned them. At the Ministry of Finance - the delay of some projects that, some of them, help to eliminate tax evasion, others are projects that we have been working on, in the past, which help to implement projects through European funds.

Reporter: Mr Prime Minister, what is the real stake in this dismissal? Could money for mayors be one of these stakes? And in what time, concretely, do you see someone fit to take over as Finance Minister?

Florin Cîțu: The stake is good governance, in the interest of the citizens, eliminating tax evasion and attracting European funds. I want this government to achieve performance.

Reporter: I want to ask you if you had a discussion about the Roșia Montană project with Alexandru Nazare. And, further, if the fact that Iulian Dumitrescu does not support you, impacted your decision to dismiss Mr Nazare.

Florin Cîţu: Mr Nazare presented the opinion of the Ministry of Finance in the coalition meeting and I said every time that the decision regarding Roșia Montană must be made there. Regarding the proposal to have or re-submit the file to UNESCO, it was made last year by last year's Prime Minister, Ludovic Orban, who is at present the chairman of the National Liberal Party and it is normal for a decision to be taken in the coalition, not in the Government, and I hope so in Parliament. As for the Government, because I saw more fake news, as far as I am concerned, I have never asked for any project to be withdrawn, I have never made an official decision in this regard, discussions are only inside the coalition, the coalition must decide in this respect and, I repeat, the PNL chairman who represents the PNL in the coalition is the prime minister of last year, who proposed the file further on. Therefore, that's where the decision has to be made. The second question?

Reporter: It was about the fact that the minister is a close friend of Iulian Dumitrescu.

Florin Cîţu: Oh, I understand.

Reporter: And, if in this internal struggle, it affects endorsement.

Florin Cîţu: No. I was the only one who endorsed the Minister when I nominated him, it was my nomination, it was not even backed by the respective party branch, and it was my nomination that is why today it has nothing to do with this fight.

Reporter: Did Mr Nazare also tell you why he did not want to resign or did he give you arguments to back his stand and, if so, what were they?

Florin Cîţu: No, but maybe he will finally hold a press conference, after six months, and we will find it out. Thanks.

Reporter: Second question. Can you please tell us if you intend to make other changes at the Finance Ministry if your dissatisfaction was strictly related to Mr Nazare or his team?

Florin Cîţu: No. I will announce tomorrow, eventually, that there are certain things that need to be corrected. Due to some of these things, the Control Body can go to the Ministry of Finance but I will let you know if these happen in the next period.

Reporter: Are budget revenues a cause for dissatisfaction?

Florin Cîțu: The budget receipts are good. That's about ANAF. ANAF had a very good performance. We have had budget increases, the investments are going well, the budget has been drawn up well, the enforcement –the same, we will discuss that in the next period; we'll see the developments there.

Reporter: Mr Prime Minister, yesterday you did not attend the coalition meeting at 1.30 pm. When you presented to the coalition leaders the objective analysis by which the coalition leaders ask ... When you presented it and if you presented it to each one. Did PNL leadership know about this reshuffle proposed by you today?

Florin Cîțu: Let's take them one by one. Yesterday, the coalition meeting, as you know, was during the day. It was more complicated for me, given my current position, to change the schedule for attendance, it was easier when these meetings were held at 5:00 pm. Anyway, Minister Tánczos Barna is here, I had a meeting with him after, he came to me, to the Government House, and we discussed the project that was presented there. You know my opinion about SIIJ(Section for the Investigation of Judicial Crimes) I  dismantled the SIIJ through the draft law in government, I go for that option. So, there are two things that I had already discussed, so I didn't consider it necessary to change the schedule yesterday and I would prefer that, in the future, these meetings be held after 5:00 pm, so that I can attend as well. At the same time, regarding my discussions with the opposition leaders, I tell you, everyone was informed that I asked for the respective dismissal, no one, at any time, said that it would not be appropriate.

Reporter: But does the PNL leadership know about this dismissal? Did the National Bureau, the leadership, find out? Because, according to the statute, each minister was nominated by the party's National Political Bureau, a vote was given in the party's National Political Bureau for this reshuffle?

Florin Cîțu: I repeat, it is the decision and the task of the prime minister to make this decision, the leaders of the coalition were informed,  none of them opposed it. Thank you.

Reporter: Mr Prime Minister, former Minister Nazare said that his measures until the approval of the budget were appreciated by all rating agencies and that the economic outlook has been raised from negative to stable and that everything is going in the right direction. You say now that there are delayed projects. Agencies raised this perspective, you say that projects are not solved.

Florin Cîțu: There are certain projects that are delayed, hence my decision. Lots of them.

Reporter: Mr Nazare said that when you came to power, there were three priorities and which of the three priorities - and I mean the reform of the large public service and public spending systems - increase in public revenues and European funds absorption, is more flawed?

Florin Cîțu: These are projects with future impact. We are talking about this type of project, projects that improve or eliminate tax evasion and improve the attraction of European funds in the coming years. That's what it's about. Projects that have an impact on the future and that need to be accelerated now.

Reporter: Does it mean that as Interim Minister for 45 days, you will sign the allocations for town halls through that fund of 7 billion lei devoted to local development?

Florin Cîţu: No. I sign all these as Prime Minister. You should know that the budget allocations, Government decisions, all are signed by the Prime Minister. The proposals are submitted by Ministries. Prime Minister is the one who decides how these allocations are being made, therefore, this is how things are working. Regarding the 7 billion we have mentioned, the project is smaller than the one of 40 billion, as mentioned elsewhere, so, you realize it is an important project connected to the Development Ministry, not to Public Finance Ministry. Thank you. 



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