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Tuesday, 17 Nov

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban attended the 27th edition of the National Ranking of Companies 2020

Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban at the 27th edition of the National Ranking of Companies 2020


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Ludovic Orban: I am honoured by the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, of president Mihai Daraban.

In all this difficult period we have all gone through, we have tried to be with the business environment, to be with the institutional representatives of the companies and together, based on a constant dialogue, to find the best measures to overcome the difficult situation generated by the coronavirus pandemic as soon as possible and to be able to prepare for the relaunch. I am certain that we are heading in the right direction, even if, in the 2nd quarter we had a significant economic drop. We have instead an economic growth of 5.6pct in the 3rd quarter. As the first nine months analysis revealed, Romania's Gross Domestic Product is 2.4pct higher than the European average, and the prospects for economic recovery are very good. It will certainly depend, to a large extent, on government policies, and also on the capacity of the Government to be formed after the elections to lay the foundations for a relaunch on serious grounds.

As far as we are concerned, we consider the partnership with the business sector as the basic pillar of the relaunch. We think this relaunch should be based on strategic thinking and the use of solid economic growth engines. We also think that Romania has opportunities to be capitalized, opportunities which appeared in this period of crisis, we have the ability to turn them to good account in order to really succeed in developing the business sector, increasing the number of companies, the number of Romanians involved in entrepreneurship, based on capitalizing on our special capabilities, on competitiveness, internationalization and obviously on digitalization.

I am ready to answer any of your questions. I congratulate all companies that have received awards. I know they have been through a difficult period and the fact that they advanced, managed to achieve results is remarkable which shows their capacity to cope with challenges nobody expected.

Anchor: I said that the event itself brings a bit of optimist, moderate one, however. You described very well the state of Romania’s economy. Which are the most critical areas where urgent intervention is required, now or after the elections, where the economy suffers the worst, because of the healthcare crisis, which may be doubled by an economic crisis?

Ludovic Orban: Surely, the healthcare crisis generated negative effects on the economy too. My belief is that until large scale vaccination, observing the healthcare protection measures can ensure minimum normality, that would allow the functioning of the economy in reasonable conditions. In this period, we tackled the healthcare crisis, while trying to pay constant attention to the economy, to the business sector, private sector employees, all liberal professions, so that together we can overcome this crisis. Of course, the Romanian economy has weaknesses, vulnerabilities that must be addressed by means of a strategic vision. The first and most important thing is the absolute need to develop infrastructure, both transport infrastructure - highways, modernization of railways, ensuring the navigability of the Danube, investments in airports and ports, both the port of Constanța, which is an entry-exit gate of Europe, as well as investments in the Danube ports, are absolutely necessary; investments in energy infrastructure are also an absolute necessity, alongside investments in health and educational infrastructure which are also extremely important for the ensuing period. And last but not least, we must take into account the fact that Romania is a country with great agricultural potential. We need massive investments in agriculture, on the one hand in irrigation systems, systems to combat soil erosion, desertification, drainage systems and all water management systems, because it is clear that this year, in addition to the economic crisis, we faced drought, especially in areas with the highest productivity of agriculture.

The climate evolution shows us clearly that we will need to invest over the next three-four years so that we can face this situation in the future. Of course, we need larger investments in agriculture, in processing, in access to market, also promotion of Romanian brands internationally.

As regards the development of the energy sector, although we have resources, skilled labour force, and expertise in the energy sector, we have not capitalized enough yet on our important resources so that they generate prosperity and comfort for the Romanian citizens.

Digitalization will have to be vital in the future government – digitalization of the administration also. People must be able to obtain their rights, benefit from services as quickly as possible, without queuing, or wasting time, nerves, without having to interact directly with the administration employees.

Anchor: And we could see during the pandemic how necessary this digitalization was.

Ludovic Orban: All the products and services we offered during the pandemic, from SME Invest to furlough, to Kurzarbeit and all the other categories, the certificate for emergency situations, etc., they could be accessed through online applications without the need for the citizen to go to the counter.

Anchor: Romania has modernized at an accelerated pace, out of necessity, from some points of view.

Ludovic Orban: I could say that we went from fax service to online applications.

Anchor: Exactly. Mr Daraban, we know about the communication existing between the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Romanian Government. How does this relationship work and what would be eventually the priorities of the business sector? You are talking now to Prime Minister face to face.

Mihai Daraban: I would start by saying that the prime minister's first trip, as prime minister-designate, was to the Chamber of Commerce. So I think that immediately after leaving the Cotroceni Palace, the first stop was at the Chamber of Commerce, together with the Minister of Finance. We had discussions for about three hours on major economic issues - for example, how to help the Romanian capital, measures ... - we are talking about the foremath of the pandemic period, but I want to say that ...

Ludovic Orban: The small number of SMEs per thousand inhabitants, the smaller number compared to other European countries, of the people involved ...

Mihai Daraban: Exactly, the fact that we have a large number of micro-enterprises with very few employees, unfortunately. But, I repeat, all these [measures] began with the appointment of Mr Ludovic Orban as Prime Minister of Romania; the dialogue has remained constant.

Anchor: We have an imbalance, Mr Prime Minister, regarding the business environment and the budgetary apparatus. What measures do you envisage for next year, for gaps to be a little smaller?

Ludovic Orban: Simplification, which means deregulation, cutting through red tape and digitalization, that in fact digitalization ultimately optimizes all your flows and generates the fastest and most efficient services, including for the management of public institutions. A manager can find it extremely useful to have an intranet, an application through which he can track, for example, the evolution of each procedure, each document, and its solving time. The employees’ performance can better evolve, as well as the extent to which they can answer with celerity the business sector’s requests, as well as the requests of the society, citizens.

Anchor: Therefore, there are solutions to all problems and it is important to stay optimistic.

Ludovic Orban: I would not cultivate this division between the public and the private sector. I think that there should be a partnership, the public sector employees are interested in a very strong private sector, bigger economic growth, a very competitive and dynamic economy, ultimately, the income level of a public sector employee largely depends on the economy’s performance, the private sector’s strength, the dynamism of the economy.

Anchor: Basically, performance criteria everywhere, whether we are talking about the public system or the private one. Thank you very much, Prime Minister, for being with us, this evening! Greater success further on, Prime Minister!

Ludovic Orban: Thank you!

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