Fresh News

Saturday, 13 February

Press conference by Prime Minister Florin Cîţu

 

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Florin Cîţu: Good afternoon! As you know, I had two days of intense and topical discussions during my visit to Brussels. I met the three presidents, the president of the European Council Charles Michel, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli. At the same time, I met with the three Executive Vice –Presidents of the European Commission: Frans Timmermans, Margrethe Vestager, and Valdis Dombrovskis. We had very substantial discussions, I will tell you what is all about when we reach the budget discussion. I had a meeting with the European Commissioner Adina Valean who gave us some very good news, and with the leaders of the political groups in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber (EPP), Iratxe Garcia Perez (S&D), Dacian Ciolos, Renew political group. This was the agenda. I had substantial discussions with each of them.

Now, I will tell you the key issues we approached in detail. First of all, we discussed combating the pandemic and the vaccination campaign. I presented the situation in Romania, the way we prepared the vaccination campaign. I thanked the European Commission President for the way she prepared all this campaign, for the fact that it started at the same time in all Member States, the European Commission negotiated on behalf of all, otherwise, we would have had vaccine offer issues in certain countries. Therefore, the way this campaign has been prepared, from our point of view, has been a very good one, I congratulated the President for it, and despite the certain gaps at the beginning, things got better and better. In March, for instance, we will receive 2.4 million vaccine doses, one million from Astra Zeneca, 1.2 million from Pfizer and 230,000 from Moderna. Starting April – this was the conclusion I reached together with the EC President, things will evolve faster. We stick to the objective of having 70 percent of population vaccinated across the EU, by the end of summer and early September.

We discussed our proposal to support the vaccine production process at the European level: it is a process considering a medium and long term objective. The Government, through my advisor for health issues, honorary advisor Victor Costache, is in touch with the Commission representatives, with Commissioner Breton, to address specific issues on this topic, they have already been in touch. Last but not least, we discussed, and the European Commission and the European Council hailed the efforts made by Romania to support the Republic of Moldova. In this respect, I said that our efforts to vaccinate the EU population are very good, are welcome, but if we do nothing to help those around us, get vaccinated, we cannot overcome the pandemic. The conclusion was unanimous: the European Union will help the countries in its vicinity with vaccine doses and equipment in order to stop the pandemic.

Second important topic: the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. In this respect, we had substantial discussions with the European Commissioners, with the Executive Vice –Presidents. I presented our current state, we informed that we already had the first draft at the Commission, and we are working on the second version. Discussions here addressed two aspects: first of all, legislation needs to be passed by Parliament, regarding own resources. I do not know if you are aware of this detail, but until all EU member states do not ratify this legislation on own resources, to fund this plan, the European Commission cannot issue bonds, cannot attract money, and we cannot implement this recovery plan. Romania is in an advanced phase, we sent it to the Romanian Parliament, and I call on the Chambers Presidents to speed up this procedure, for this legislation to come into force as soon as possible.

We know very well that the amounts are consistent and this is why it is important for us to attract all these amounts.

During this visit, I also presented our priorities linked to reforms, and these reforms to us are also linked to the state budget, and PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan). We have reforms in the field of pensions, pay, tax administration and education. There are four large reforms we will include in the PNRR and are also related to Romania’s budget. At the same time, I wanted to make clear the opinion of EC experts and of the Executive Vice –Presidents, regarding the large infrastructure, as I received different messages, whether or not they are eligible for PNRR. I got the answer that they are eligible for large infrastructure if they represent a transition period to a green economy, we need to be careful when drawing up these projects.

I will also mention the aid that the Commission allocates in terms of infrastructure projects when speaking about the meeting with Commissioner Vălean. We also talked about the gas transition. I pointed out that Romania supports the climate objectives of the Union, but I said, as each time, when I was in ECOFIN, that these efforts of Romania must be analyzed taking into account the current context. Romania has a different starting point than other countries in the European Union and needs a transition period, especially in terms of this gas connection of households. We had a discussion with Mr Vice President Timmermans and we can also introduce in the PNRR the gas connection or distribution for households, the gas connection of households, as long as it represents a transition, from how these households are heated today to green heating, maybe with hydrogen in the future, and it is our duty to do these projects.

I mentioned the meeting with Mrs Vălean, and here I must let you know that the Commissioner informed me that she established a working group, a task force, to work together with the team of the Ministry of Transport in Romania. I think that's very good news. We have already informed Minister Drula about this team. It is a team that will help prepare the projects so that we no longer have the problems we had in the past, we will have the projects, we will finance them and the Commission will tell us in case they are not eligible because we did not understand how to apply the procedure. So, they will help us to make sure that the projects meet the required criteria. We want to increase the absorption of EU -funded projects, therefore, this task force will also deal with European funds and, of course, help us identify synergies between European funds, the Resilience Fund and the European Interconnection Mechanism.

Romania's budget was the third topic we discussed. You know very well that we took over a disastrous fiscal-budgetary situation in 2019, with unpaid bills, with expenses that spanned over several years, which increased every year. This made Romania enter the excessive deficit procedure before the pandemic, we are the only country in the EU; of course, if we judged the EU by the same rules today, all countries would enter the EU’s excessive deficit procedure. These rules were suspended in 2020, we do not know if they are suspended in 2021 too. Unfortunately, Romania is in this procedure, due to those disastrous policies in 2017 and 2019, and we must show investors, the European Commission, rating agencies that we are a responsible government, as we promised in the election campaign.

We presented the economic figures, and you will see that they are much better than anyone estimated at the beginning of the year and that we did an excellent thing in the economy last year. We already have figures on net income growth of 8.5%, we have figures on investment, industry, but we will also have figures on economic growth soon and my estimates show that they will be better than anyone estimated this year. From here we start with the numbers for next year. We have discussed in detail with Executive Vice - President Dombrovskis and we have support for this budget, for this form of budget, for the reforms that we have included in the Fiscal-Budgetary Strategy, and we have support for the deficit estimates in the next 4 years. We already have a public message from the Executive Vice-President and I am sure that, when we approve the budget, in the form we have presented, and with this Fiscal-Budgetary Strategy, we will have even more public support.

We also discussed judiciary reform. You know very well that this year, an important priority for me is to meet the recommendations of the European Commission in order to complete the CVM. Here, too, we received support from the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council and, of course, we discussed the accession to the Schengen area, which is very important for Romania. Romania has met the criteria since 2011, further on, this year, we will take steps to finalize the CVM, and afterwards, I think that Romania is meeting all criteria to join the Schengen area. All interlocutors, without exception, emphasized the good cooperation with Romanian authorities and the openness to work together on all topics of interest for Romania. There were substantial discussions, excellent discussions, I think you could see the messages from interlocutors. These were the topics debated and discussed at the European Commission, very good news for PNRR, regarding large infrastructure and gas network connection, that task force is very welcomed in the field of transportation, for the preparation of the PNRR project and as you can see, the vaccination campaign in Romania is working, we rank third in the EU in this respect, we are ready to open other 200 new vaccination centres over the next period, to deal with the new doses coming in March. This is about my visit to Brussels.

We start now the discussion about the budget, as I have seen in these two days when I was away, a lot of public discussions about the budget, with erroneous interpretations from my point of view. I would like us to start from zero, to see how we built this budget, on what we relied. First of all, we rely on a tough reality: more than three years of PSD government and a year of pandemic. In this period, expenditure grew, of course, without any connection with sustainability or economic growth during 2017 -2019, and we had to increase expenditure during the pandemic as we were in a difficult situation, while the economy declined. It should be clear for everyone the role of a budget. A budget allocates the resources we have available through taxes to sectors in the economy. I have always stated that I want to allocate more resources in that sector with a bigger yield, as only this way can we have bigger budget receipts in the future and can cover bigger social expenditure. At the same time, I said from the outset that I do not agree to maintain in the budget or to cover through this budget the PSD inconsistencies between 2017 -2019. I voted against them in the Romanian Parliament, how could I endorse them, in my capacity now? I was against them then, I am against such things now. At the same time, if somebody fancy that we can maintain those inconsistencies in the budget, despite our government programme, they are wrong. We do not have room for that. To create space for our programme for government, the coalition programme, the centre-right programme, we should eliminate those inconsistencies. I will stay firm in my stand to eliminate from the budget what was passed during 2017 -2019 for purely populist reasons, and I will not maintain these things in the budget.

Therefore, through this budget, we cut the wastage done by PSD during 2017 -2019. Furthermore, I would like us to notice the hypocrisy of Ciolacu and PSD folk. They keep complaining at the European Commission about Romania’s budget for months, although some years ago, they got angry when we complained in our turn at the European Commission. Their complaints are not the issue here. I would have preferred Mr Ciolacu to call me up as I did in 2019 and as I asked during 2017 -2019. I could have explained to him what this budget is about.

I know it is more difficult, but I could explain to him what this budget is about, rather than he makes these complaints to the European Commission. Therefore, Mr Ciolacu, when you have time, give me a call. I saw some talks about certain budgets, and my coalition colleagues, members of the Cabinet participated in some of them, contradictory ones. I stay firm in what I said, we cannot finance the inconsistencies caused by PSD and I was unpleasantly surprised when in some discussions with my colleagues, members of the Cabinet, I saw greater support for subsidies, for certain companies with losses, than for investments. I do not accept such a thing. I asked for a reform program for state-owned companies, it has not yet come and then we will introduce it in the Budget Law. And there are a few more things that we will introduce until we get to the Budget Law. There were discussions about this budget with ministers, all ministers wanted more money for Ministries. Initially, the requests for ministries amounted to 49 billion lei more than we had. We compare our budget with the PSD budget and make a bigger budget. Totally wrong, no, that's not how we can move forward. So all the ministers wanted bigger budgets than in previous years. We had only a few exceptions, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the General Secretariat of the Government and at the Ministry of Finance, where there was money for general elections and so on. We responded largely with larger budgets for all ministries than last year, so we have larger budgets than last year in almost all ministries. I told you the three exceptions. But now come my expectations, for the ministers, for the Cabinet members. And it's about performance, efficiency and through these allocations, I would like to see that there is monitoring, and on this occasion, I announce that at mid-year, we will make an evaluation, there will be indicators, we will use intermediate indicators, and at mid-year, we will make the evaluation in terms of the budget execution because I've seen this situation in previous years when we had been fighting for a bigger budget during the year and budget execution was disastrous in the middle of the year. And this year we saw public discussions, I don't know how many were true, how many were not true, but if they are true and they referred to votes in Parliament to endorse the budget or resignations, we will also discuss budget execution at the budget rectification in mid-year, with mandates on the table then.

I agreed to increase the budget, there is a big expenditure that we have to cover, but I would also like to see the implementation, I want to see the performance, I want to see that reform of state companies as well. And as we have not received any restructuring schedule of these companies so far, we will do so through the Budget Law. And at present, we are being told that the ministries are working on these specific measures. I tell you this: the salary policy in 2021 for economic operators is provided in the draft law, as every year. We have capped the salary expenses for 2021 at the level of those of 2020 for all economic operators provided in this draft law. There are only a few exceptions, related to those that have increased, such as the increase of the minimum gross basic salary in payment, but only for the staff that fall under these regulations. And I let everyone know that I will not wait until the middle of the year when they come and tell me that they have not made any reforms and then they will say that we have to pay these subsidies or salaries because they are provided in the Pay Law. They should start the reform program until mid-year in order to have extra budgets.

I have also seen an issue linked to the increase in the number of public administration employees. There are 9,000 in the educational sector, and in healthcare, and I also have the explanations of my colleagues, I will tell them immediately: in the university education, 1,200 increases of posts, few were the result of Government Decisions last year, considering the pandemic. Therefore, salary increased in healthcare and education, we can give you more details, given that there were temporary employees in healthcare and online teaching in education.

A little about the budget and then, we take questions. You have already seen the macro indicators. I would like to add a few details. In 2020, to combat the effects of COVID -19 pandemic, 16,13 billion lei was spent. (...)  These measures are extended in 2021 too.

There have been measures of 3 billion lei, last year, in the budget which we will not find this year, the so-called on-off, holding local and general election and compensations for drought. We do not have them in this year’s budget. From the outset, the budgetary construction for 2021 was supplemented compared to 2020, with the necessary amounts for the payment of pensions and allocations, in the amount of 10.4 billion lei, therefore, without any discussion on the budget, expenditure grows naturally, 8 billion at pensions and 2.4 billion lei state benefits for children. To these add extra expenditure worth 5. 7 billion lei interest rates and EU contribution, investment in the amount of 8.2 billion lei and COVID measures deficit impact of 8.42 billion lei, therefore, these were from the start.

I would like to discuss a little about investment because as I promised from the first moment, this budget will focus on investment. Only through investment, can we grow the economy, the budget receipts, and we should afford bigger expenditure on pensions and social expenditure. PSD formula is a formula leading to bankruptcy, which brought us in the current situation, and we will not promote it. The investment projects, record amounts amounting to 61.4 billion lei, 5.5 percent of GDP. So, these are the amounts.

I have heard other discussion about the Health Ministry in the public space, and I want to tell you that I am amazed here. I think that we should know how to read a budget sheet after so many years. 11.4 billion lei are allocated to the Health Ministry, last year’s execution is 10. 7 billion lei, in 2019, 9.2 billion lei, therefore, this year, there is more than 2.2 billion lei at the Health Ministry. If I take a look at the entire healthcare sector, and I include both hospitals and the Health House, 56.9 billion lei has been allocated this year, by 4.7 billion lei more than in 2019, so, it is more money. Last year, it was that on-off expenditure, because of the crisis situation, I cannot include it this year too. But compared to a normal year like 2019, we have more by 4. 7 billion lei, therefore, more money has been allocated to the healthcare sector. The Health Ministry has more funds, so the overall sector has more money. But I think we can approach this situation some other time.

It rests a very brief discussion about salaries, as I have seen the public discussion on it, and I want to see exactly how big are the salaries in the public sector. Therefore, in the staff analysis of 2020, the pay envelope is 109.5 billion lei, the bonus for work conditions and the other bonuses amount to 9. 8 percent of the overall salary envelope. According to article 25, paragraph 1, of Law 153/ 2017, the variable part of the pay includes allowances, cash rewards and other extra which should not go beyond 30 percent of the basic salary at the level of the public institution. I want to recall that I did not vote for this law, neither I, nor my colleagues. Therefore, we do not endorse this form of law, and this is why I went public, and I said that we do not endorse these bonuses awarded on various criteria, none of which is a performance criterion. The variable part of the salary envelope was 26. 7 billion lei in 2020, approximately 24. 4 percent of the overall salary envelope. I give you this information to have it in the future.

At the same time, I expect this year to be an excellent year in terms of investment; last year was very good too, a record year, in which investments were financed half from European funds, I expect this year the same, as the investment has been budgeted this way. European funds should be attracted as soon as possible, in a bigger amount, this is why we need this budget as soon as possible.

Reporter: As you spoke about investment, I wanted to draw your attention on some budget figures: 61 billion lei was allocated for investments, 149 billion for social security, and 105 billion lei for the public sector employees’ salaries. We are spending 22 percent of GDP on social security, public sector pay. You are nevertheless a liberal government, are you not considering that there is a very big gap between the allocations for investments and the expenditure on pensions and public sector pay?

Florin Cîţu: I understood you drew my attention to investment, but in fact, you asked me about expenditure on staff and social welfare.

Reporter: I wanted you to make a comparison.

Florin Cîţu: As I said from the very beginning, we grew investment compared to last year, last year, the budget execution was 53. 2 billion, this year, it is 61. 4 billion, therefore, we clearly show the direction we are heading to. Regarding the expenditure you mentioned, we maintained the expenditure with the staff at the level of December 2020, therefore, we will not deviate from this, regarding social assistance, of course, pensions grew last year, and allocations are included there, there is extra 10 billion lei to budget from this expenditure.

This year, we are amending the Unitary Pay Law based on this. I do not agree, I did not agree with that law, I did not vote for it in the Romanian Parliament, I do not agree to endorse the aberrations that the PSD voted in the Romanian Parliament and it was clear that they led Romania in the wrong direction and weakened Romania's fiscal stability, I do not say why I received analysis from rating agencies, respectively, regarding the Law on pensions or the Pay Law, that they are not sustainable, that Romania can enter in payment incapacity and so on. The moment I stopped that wastage, you saw how the tone of these rating agencies changed.

Reporter: Regarding the salaries of public servants, if this government remains in office in the coming years, do you also intend to freeze the salaries of public servants at the level of last year or are you considering some performance criteria?

Florin Cîţu: This is a very good question and I wanted to say at the beginning: I think that the mistake that many make today is that they look at this government as a short-term one. No, it's a four-year government, it's a four-year coalition. This budget for 2021 is the one that redresses the situation, and I ask my colleagues to be patient because the next years will come with more investments. What will happen to the salary in the budget sector will be known exactly after we have the law on unitary pay? There is a working group already established in this regard and, as you know very well, I told you earlier, there are four reforms regarding the pension law, the pension system, payroll, education and tax administration, which we will undertake this year. These are things that we have already agreed and presented to the European Commission and we have received favourable opinions in this direction, these are things that people have been waiting for, in Romania, for 30 years. We will do them this year. I know that there is a political risk for the prime minister who assumes such a thing. I know that at present, a lot of political leaders step aside, making reforms is difficult, responsibility-taking is necessary and nobody wants to assume these measures. I assume it, with all political risks, even if I know that in the National Liberal Party where I am vice –president, a congress will ensue and candidacies as well. I am taking this risk and go further, irrespective of the cost I might pay at that congress for any office I will be running for, there. Thanks.

Reporter: Are you going to run for a position, at the Congress, is that what you wanted to tell us?

Florin Cîţu: I am the PNL Vice –President, you realize, we all want to run at the Congress.

Reporter: As regards the healthcare budget, as there were so controversies in public space, I would like to ask you if the Health Minister asked you a certain budget if he expressed dissatisfaction with the allocated budget.

Florin Cîţu: I told you that all Ministers wanted bigger budgets as it was very simple to compare the budget you want, your programme for government with the PSD programme, only that we went towards 15-16 percent of GDP. I agreed on them to increase the majority of budgets, besides the three I have already mentioned to you: MAE(Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Finance Ministry and the Secretary-General, but now, I want to see the performance and budget execution, if the budget execution does not come up, we will discuss another way at mid-year.

Reporter: When can we see the first COVID vaccine produced in Romania?

Florin Cîţu: I do not know this, I told you discussions are being held in this respect, and are welcomed by the European Commission. I transferred these talks to my adviser. It is about (...) what Romania can do in this field. There are technical discussions about how Romania can make its contribution. As far as I know, there are two countries that answered the European Commission’s request, Romania is one of them.

Reporter: When can we see the reports on Matei Bals and Piatra Neamt hospitals blaze? Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu publicly announced that he will present them in a short time. Almost three weeks have passed since that press conference and we have not seen the reports.

Florin Cîţu: I have not received them either. We have been waiting for them.

Reporter: Where are you going to invest with priority the money allocated through the Budget Law for this purpose?

Florin Cîţu: Infrastructure. I said each time that we need infrastructure. I want to make sure I make sure that these projects are included in PNRR today, and this money will be allocated to infrastructure. During recent meeting, we saw the projects funded through the Transport Ministry, through other Ministries, I have a list of these projects. I requested the Transport Ministry to see the correlation with the programme for government, for the next Cabinet meeting.

Reporter: You were the Minister of Finance, I ask you what could be the consequences for a country like Romania, which does not have industries to support itself for the most part, in the new fashion of investing in cryptocurrencies and automatically withdraw large sums from the economy?

Florin Cîţu: I do not see a great danger here. Romania has investments and this is what we will try, through what we do this year. By repealing certain laws that the PSD adopted last year, we will encourage foreign investors to come to Romania and you will see more foreign investment in Romania. Last year, Romania, although estimates showed that it would fall by minus 9, remember, we were the last, you will see the figures, and you will see that they were better than anyone expected. What we did last year, paid off, income rose in a period of crisis, the biggest crisis in the last hundred years, average net gross income rose by 8.5%, inflation fell, so we have interest rates falling; we succeeded to manage the economy in a time of the pandemic. There follows a period in which we clean and grow, during 2022-2023. We are growing this year as well, but you will see that the growth rate will increase starting mid this year.

Reporter: Mr Prime Minister, given Romania's economic situation and the 7% deficit target, I ask you if you have contacted the International Monetary Fund for a loan agreement?

Florin Cîţu: No, never. And I tell you, last year we managed to finance - and it was a premiere - to finance a deficit of 9.8% of GDP without any international institution. We went to the international markets, each time we borrowed cheaper than the PSD borrowed in a period of economic growth, without crisis and we made it clear that we are a credible government. We continue exactly what we started last year. We continue in the same direction and we will not have problems regarding the ability to pay. We will move forward if we stick to the reform agenda. The moment we derail from the reform agenda and become politicians again, we will have problems.

Reporter: Considering that you have taken measures to cut salaries, freezes ...

Florin Cîţu: No, I correct you, no salary has been cut.

Reporter: ... restructuring in the budget system. I wonder why you are not going against two banks that have debts to the state of 250 million euros. Isn't it a double standard that you're not going against them?

Florin Cîţu: It is not. I know that that procedure has been submitted to the Romanian Parliament at the moment, the decision is to be made by the Romanian Parliament. We will enforce the decision that comes from the Romanian Parliament.

Reporter: Will you run for president of the National Liberal Party?

Florin Cîţu: No, it is too early to discuss such a thing. I just told you that right now, no. I take any political risk to make Romania go in the right direction, any political cost, no matter what it is.

Reporter: What criticism did you bring to Mr Ludovic Orban, for the way the National Recovery and Resilience Plan looks like, at the meeting with your colleagues from the EPP?

Florin Cîţu: No criticism, I did not criticize the National Plan for Reconstruction and Resilience, on the contrary, I said that we sent the first draft to the European Commission, I received some recommendations from the European Commission, we improve it, in the sense that the Commission and Parliament, after several discussions, began to be more flexible and that is why we are talking about the introduction of those gas networks to connect households, large infrastructure. Therefore, I did not criticize it. It is a good plan, which is being built now, we should have a very good plan for Romania to attract all that money.

Reporter: After the assessment of the first week since the re-opening of schools, what specific measures are required for healthcare security?

Florin Cîţu: You should know that I have not seen a worsening of the situation. I have seen that we are in a good situation, judging by the indicators I pursue. I have seen the news that COVID hospitals are only half full. The alarmist news that has been coming for months, did not get materialized. It is the same situation in which we were criticized that the economy does not work. The economy worked very well last year. We managed to achieve performance, despite all criticisms. You should know we were congratulated by the European Union on the way we managed and the previous government managed the pandemic together with Mr President, but also on the vaccination campaign.

Reporter: What is the plan this year for the re-start of the economy? How will the vaccination campaign be linked to the aid measures for the business environment and what measures do you envisage?

Florin Cîţu: You very well know that this year, many of the measures we took last year regarding the business environment, have been extended. Kurzabeit for instance is a measure still in place, there are measures to support the SMEs, the SME Invest, and the others will also be tackled during the Cabinet meeting. We are waiting to get opinions, but these measures will be in place this year too. At the same time, we should look a bit at this economy as emerging after a crisis period. Last year, we faced a crisis but we should speed up the engines. Romania is making efforts regarding the budget deficit, but I am telling you that it is not enough. The European Union had on average 13 percent budget deficits last year, most countries have 6 or below 6 percent deficit. Therefore, this can be done. We have not done this yet, as we have an economy undergoing reform, we need this reform, and I asked a speed to adjust deficit in Romania smaller than in other countries. We also have been asked to have a 6 percent deficit.

A first question, Mr. Prime Minister, related to the vaccination of teachers in education. There are all kinds of variants, scenarios, that it starts on March 1, with mobile teams or not. Do you have a concrete plan at the moment? What happens to the vaccination of teachers? Is that date confirmed on March 1 and how will it be done?

Florin Cîţu: So, the teachers are, at this moment, vaccinated. Many of them are about to be vaccinated. If we talk about what happens after March 1, there will be 200 new vaccination centres, we will have other vaccines and yes, they will be used for rural areas and this type of vaccination with mobile centres, but in the others, we will have centres in cities, but they may be separate. I have to talk to Mr Gheorghiţă to see exactly which of the options is best, but the good news is that we have 2.4 million doses that will arrive in March alone. That means 1.2 million people vaccinated in March alone.

Reporter: And will you prioritize these doses, for example, for teachers or certain other categories or do you go on with the model existing so far?

Florin Cîţu: If we have the confirmations for April, we can maintain the same pace, because a much faster vaccination will start and we will approach that target of one hundred thousand vaccinations per day. Let's see what the schedule for March and April is. For now, I say that the good news is that in March, we will receive 2.4 million doses of vaccines. That means 1. 2 million persons vaccinated only in March.

Reporter: And you said that in the middle of the year you will discuss the budget execution with the mandates on the table. I would like to ask you, what do you expect when you make this assessment and how you will succeed in imposing yourself in the coalition, knowing that one party is not allowed to dictate the members of another party. How will you succeed in persuading, for example, those from USR-PLUS or UDMR, when you find that the Minister has not done what he should have done to give it up?

Florin Cîţu: I think there are some things we don't understand about how a coalition works. We have made some decisions and we have a government programme. We have to observe it. This is not about USR, UDMR or PNL. It is about the Romanian Government’s performance. There is money allocated. We can't waste money, because - what do you have to understand - we allocate more resources to this budget because they were asked by the ministers who say they will need money to spend it. This more money also means a bigger deficit. That means we borrow with interest rate. I don't want to waste Romanians' money. If I don’t have a perfect execution in the middle of the year, I need to know why, because we pay interest on this money we borrow, and the idea of putting the mandate on the table is not mine. We have seen that there are many who want to link their mandate and votes in Parliament to a budget. Very well, we also link it to the budget execution.

Reporter: That is, concretely, if a minister does not fulfil his duties for the middle of the year and there is no budget execution ...?

Florin Cîţu: We will see then.

Reporter: Will you be able to demand his resignation?

Florin Cîţu: Wait a minute. You know very well what the Romanian Constitution is like, yes?

Reporter: I know.

Florin Cîţu: So, it has nothing to do with political parties, how to do /.../, but that's not what we're talking about now. I want to see responsibility and commitment not only when we ask for money from the budget, but also when we do the budget execution. That's what we're talking about. That is why it is about indicators, just like at PNRR, because at PNRR there will be indicators in the medium term. You attained this indicator, you get the money from the European Commission. If not, you don't get the money. The same will work for the government. Thanks!

(...)

 



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