Fresh News

Monday, 29 June

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban attended the General Assembly meeting of members of the Coalition for Romania's Development

Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban at the General Assembly meeting of members of the Coalition for Romania's Development


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Ludovic Orban: Good afternoon! Thank you for the invitation! I'll try to answer the questions you asked me. I will tell a few simple things before.  I will start with the last question: how do you see the relationship with CDR and how do you want to improve it? I agree that there is always room for improvement, but on the other hand, although I do not accept to have as a term of comparison something other than what is possible, achievable, however, keep in mind and compare with what relationships you have had with others; and here, I tell you from the outset, the Government I am leading understands very well that government is not an act of people who had revelations as a result of assuming public office or receiving an order from the party what decisions to take in the economy and society.

The government means a permanent dialogue with the business environment, with civil society as a whole and a constant search for the best solutions, which will provide appropriate answers for the different situations a society is facing. And who would have imagined, at the investiture of the government, on November 4, that, instead of dealing with cutting through red tape, with digitalization, supporting investment and everything that means a serious partnership for the development of Romania, we are facing an epidemic, economic crisis, drought and currently,  the floods. That means… of course, nothing is perfect here either.

We had many times normative acts whose final form we adopted at four o'clock in the morning because the challenges were such that we had to give some answers. If we were waiting to make decisions about furlough, if we were waiting to make decisions ... and so we were a little late, because two hundred and a few thousand employment contracts were terminated, which may not have terminated if we managed to adopt the emergency ordinance a little faster. Anyway, we practically adopted it almost after the re-investiture. Remember that the declaration of the state of emergency, the re-investiture of the Cabinet after the motion of censure, we adopted them on the second or third day.

My strong belief is very clear and simple: in a country where businesses are running well, everybody is well, and enjoy opportunities for a better living. The employees have opportunities to choose, to find jobs, including the public sector, can be better paid, the public sector employee in an economically developed country, the level of pensions, despite populism, and allegations of left-wing parties that pensions can rise all of a sudden, that there are but two real solutions to increase pension as purchasing power, the increase in the number of employees, and in the average salary, both are based only on development policies, investment, boost in the competitiveness of companies, increase in exports, increase in production capacities, capitalization on all opportunities arising from various economic circumstances, or from what Romania is like country. This was and is my strong belief. Because of this, you can further count on a full openness to dialogue, receptiveness. You cannot rely only on views presented by collaborators in the government, based on the experience and knowledge of the administrative teams in Ministries or the political teams, which could be many times further from reality, given that you are facing the problems on a daily basis, and you know very well what bothers you, and what can support you in running the businesses.

As regards taxes, ANAF does not have an IT digitalization department. In charge of digitalizing ANAF is a department in the Finance Ministry, which must probably digitalize the Finance Ministry first. We will not wait for the establishment of a department. Here we have some very clear objectives regarding the ANAF digitalization. We have taken steps in this regard, small steps. On the other hand, you can't take big steps in six months, of which four months of crisis. In this respect, there was funding from the World Bank for the ANAF digitalization. The money has not been spent. All business people were obliged to buy cash registers with online information transmission and ANAF has not bought for three years the servers on which the respective information could be centralized. They took their scanners from customs but no scanner has ever worked, and they were bought as furniture because those who operated these scanners never had any interest in making them work. Our fundamental objective is the digitalization of ANAF. I pursued models from other countries, there are already models we can follow, in both Central Europe and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe. For instance, digitalization regarding invoices which was introduced in Italy, had an absolutely spectacular result, and we, as a country, we resemble Italy, we have dozens and something companies which are from Italy. Therefore, such things can be done, we see models.

On the other hand, you cannot do it overnight. We do not have in the nomenclature a job that is very sought after in the West, namely the architect, the application designer. We don't even have it in the nomenclature of jobs. You are looking for people in public administration, well-intentioned and willing to introduce digitalization, and you find it very difficult. It is very difficult to form teams, and these teams face great resistance, because the first thing you need to do is to persuade the employee that it is in his best interest to digitalize all unfolding operations, and we need to think that it is very complicated very many times. I heard about the environment, visit us every year. The same situation with ANRM, the license is not granted by government decisions, but you are welcome to visit us every year. This is the policy of a large part of those who are at the helm, and some of the administration employees are feeling very well when they are being sought for doing one thing or another.

Clearly, it is an assumed goal, it will unfold as quickly as possible. We have already taken a few steps and these steps will continue. As for European funds, first of all, I give you a figure, by November 4, 5.3 billion euros were defrayed, in seven months, more than two billion euros were defrayed. Surely, we have an uneven pace, but there are unforeseen situations. For example, on POIM, a large part of the money is money for the extension of water and sewerage networks, the rest is money for transport infrastructure. I tell you, on the POS 2 environmental program, for the extension of the water and sewerage networks, almost nothing had been done until we took office. We have solved the issue of 6% co-financing for water companies. We have solved the issue of including as eligible the ineligible costs resulting from the increase of labour costs because of Ordinance 114 regarding the construction sector, we have solved other procedures, only we cannot achieve the respective projects alone as long as the ADIs that are coordinated by PSD barons do not move in this direction and have no interest in signing financing contracts and starting projects, we cannot do them in their place.

With regard to transport infrastructure, we adopted an emergency ordinance before the motion of censure, if you remember, when we were criticized for adopting a lot of emergency ordinances, and we adopted an emergency ordinance to clarify, in terms of deadlines for each procedure. Ex-ante, yes? Verification of ex-ante documentation in a maximum of 15 days. If in 15 days, you are not granted the agreement on the ex -ante verification from ANAF, the one dealing with the respective situation is sanctioned, and if you do not get it, the documentation is considered as approved.

Regarding the evaluation of tenders in tender procedures. For less complex tender procedures, we set a short deadline of 15 days; for more complex tenders, we set a 60-day evaluation period. We also tried to set deadlines for the trial in the CNSC and in the courts, so that specialized panels at the Court of Appeal rule regarding a time limit ... I tell you, there are auctions that lasted five years. You can't imagine. How to build infrastructure ... Last year we lost 300 million euros from the Connecting Europe Facility because two tenders that had started four years earlier on Braşov-Apaţa and Caţa-Sighișoara, on railway sections, were not concluded. We have introduced these regulations precisely to simplify and shorten deadlines and to hold everyone involved accountable. Of course, they declared it unconstitutional, it was attacked by the HCCJ. Of course, we will return to it, we will adopt everything that has not been declared unconstitutional, just to push things forward in terms of absorbing European funds. I witnessed the first contract signed by Minister Boloș, with electronic signature - and it's not a joke, it was simply introduced and the electronic signature and all procedures for projects will be established, both in the adoption phase and in the development phase. They will take place online. This is our decision and implementation. Every day, I try to push projects forward and to unlock different projects that have been left in an absolutely outrageous and embarrassing state; billions and billions of euros that we would normally have had to absorb two, three, four years ago, we are now on the last hundred meters trying to find solutions so that we can use this money either for infrastructure or for companies.

As for the environment, it is clear that legislation needs to be adopted. But, with what Parliament? But with what Parliament, I ask you? With this parliament, believe me, it is not possible to adopt very clear, very precise legislation on the integrated waste management system. You know very well that it was a passing shot with the OTRs, with the local authorities, with the fact that the rules at European level regarding waste management are not observed. You know very well that a lot of projects on waste management are blocked, projects with European funding, which are also dragging in all sorts of litigations, they have not obtained agreements, environmental permits have been attacked - it is total madness, I tell you frankly. Furthermore, many of them have been set up in an unrealistic way and many of them are almost unachievable and forget what problems have been caused by this. Galaţi, for example, transports the waste to the landfill in Vaslui, a landfill in Vaslui County, increasing 2.3 times the costs of waste processing resulting from activities in that system.

With regard to energy, it is very difficult for me to give you an answer to this question, about the negotiations between the political parties, the absolutely necessary improvement of the legislation in the field, ie with regard to the Law on Electricity, as well as natural gas, as well as the Offshore Law. We have entered the election year and, unfortunately, at present, almost all parliamentary parties have a conduct that is strictly dictated by electoral interests and not by important objectives for Romania. As for us, we have the same openness and we will support any upgrade of the legislation in the field, which will favour investments. By the way, I don't know if you noticed, but we adopted that emergency ordinance, which went unnoticed, because the media was preoccupied with other issues, fake news released by some and others, but we adopted an emergency ordinance cancelling the obligation to trade the energy generated in new production capacities, obligatorily through the Stock Exchange, through /.../, giving the possibility to sign direct contracts on medium-term, because many of the potential investors did not trust the current and very difficult system, especially regarding investments in green energy, because investments in green energy are special investments, but also in other types of energy.

Regarding IT&C, it's too much to talk about. Of course, we support teleworking, of course, the emergency ordinance that made it mandatory for all public authorities and institutions to communicate online with citizens, with people, was not devoted to the state of emergency or the state of alert, it is an ordinance that, if not amended by Parliament, generates this permanent obligation, a related obligation concerns purchasing systems, either intranet or applications that allow the authorities, depending on the type of service they provide, to be able to do this online. I remember and I do not miss any opportunity to tell you, all the services and products generated by the government during the crisis took place online - SME INVEST, furlough, support allowance, emergency certificate. Have you ever imagined that you could get your emergency certificate in less than 24 hours since applying? I don't think anyone fancied this. And all the products that we have generated have been digital products,  we have eliminated the need to travel - the obligation for each one to personally come with the documents - the newly created situation obviously has to continue, it will not be easy to continue, because here a great will is needed, which cannot come only from the political level, but from society as well, the business environment, civil society, from every citizen.

Because, in fact, digitalization is not an end in itself, digitalization is a way to increase the quality of services provided to citizens, companies, individuals or legal entities. That is, in fact, the goal. Not to mention that it is much easier even for us to evaluate subordinate public sector employees if we have a very clear digital system, in which we receive a report at the end of each month, to know how many of the tasks have been fulfilled. This way, you have an evaluation system, not the paper load which is drafted yearly now, in which the employees are mostly evaluated according to how much the heads of their departments appreciated them. As for healthcare, healthcare is a priority in funding at European level. I have seen a lot of information related to European funds. Surely, Romania can benefit from important European funds, these European funds, in exchange, very few will come throughout this year. The EU budget for 2021- 2027 can be accessed after January 1, 2021.

In all our discussions with all the European leaders, this is, in fact, the moment we considered. Of course, we will have to prepare by then, of course, we have to adopt our own resilience and recovery plan and to prepare to absorb as soon as possible, because those funds will be absorbed in a shorter period of time than during 2021-2027, most likely during 2021-2022. And then we will have to have all the funding applications, to be prepared in accordance with the resilience and recovery plan, on which we have already started working, and we will consult you soon when we reach some semi-finished form that will be subject to consultation.

As for the SURE program, and here I am saying, a SURE Program is a form of a loan, not a grant. Of course, it is useful, of course, Romania can benefit from up to 5 billion. This money is used for active measures, for Kurzarbeit, but it is also used for health expenses, including expenses for the health protection of employees, so that, we have seen, here, defrayments for all employee protection expenses, may be eligible, for all expenses with employees’ protection, which have been made by the companies. We will also have a funding possibility, within REACT – EU, where Romania can benefit from an amount between 1,500,000 and 1,600,000, but this year, 120 million at maximum will be available, the largest share of the money will be available in 2021, and for this, we need to prepare very well to absorb these funds. In 2020, all should understand that we are on our own, and the money we can use in the 2014 -2020 exercise. This is the reality, because of this, you can see, the deficit increased.

Well, the deficit increases when the revenues decrease, and at the same time, you need to allocate significant resources to support companies, to support employees and to ensure a goal that I pursued like a red thread, the goal to provide liquidities to companies during this difficult period. Look and compare with other governments. From the most generous measure we have taken, in terms of suspending the payment of loans for individuals and legal entities, they have been able to benefit from this measure, certainly under the terms of an agreement with the bank. VAT refunds, compare the figures in 2020 with the figures in 2019 and think that in 2019 we were, for a year, with an alleged economic growth of over 5%, and in 2020, we faced a crisis, which generated a lot of problems, including related to liquidities. As regards sick leaves, the average defrayment for 2019 was less than 100 million lei per month. In May, we defrayed sick leave worth over 600 million. Of course, you can't recover in such a short time (…).

 Răspundem cetăţenilor


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