The General Assembly of the Communes’ Association in Romania convened in Bucharest on Monday to make an analysis of the problems faced by local communities.
The national local development program in Romania will receive 30 billion lei worth of funding this year, with the government hoping the program will become operational as of the second half of the year. The announcement has been made by Deputy Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh, who has said mayors can submit infrastructure projects within 30 days. “We should offer youngsters and people in general equal opportunities in life, irrespective of their place of birth,” was the message conveyed by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu to the mayors of Romanian communes who gathered in Bucharest on Monday.
Hinting at the existence of “two Romanias”, the Prime Minister emphasised the major differences between the Romanians living in urban and rural areas, respectively. “Some 47% of Romania’s population is further living in rural areas. Approximately 80% of the country’s territory is administered by you, the communes’ mayors. Things have changed significantly, but we still have the impression that we have two Romanias: an urban Romania and a rural Romania”, the Prime Minister said. “As long as it is in my power to allocate money to local communities, I will do it unhesitatingly. So, you can obviously count on me. Furthermore, all of us here make a team, which understands very well the necessity of developing this country and its rural areas, in particular”, the Senate Speaker, co-president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, and the partner of the Social Democratic Party in the ruling coalition, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu has said.
On that occasion, Tăriceanu launched the idea of setting up two state-owned banks, apart from the Savings’ Bank, with the aim of funding projects to the benefit of local communities. Tăriceanu explained his idea by saying that not all local authorities have enough resources to take part in important projects for their communities, although people want to lead a better life today and tomorrow and not in 20 or 40 years’ time.
That is why, Tăriceanu said, sustained efforts are needed to develop rural areas and implement projects meant to improve the quality of people’s lives as soon as possible. The mayors gathered in Bucharest also received promises from the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, who said they would benefit from pay-rises once the new law on the unified payment system takes effect.
Dragnea also said the mayors would receive incentives and bonuses if they manage to absorb European funds, adding that legal clarifications should be made for the mayors to know what they should and should not do, in order not to come into the focus of attention of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate. Public administration should “come out of this state of paralysis, with public servants no longer fearing to sign a document”, said Liviu Dragnea. That is why, he underlined, the difference between legality and opportunity should be defined in Parliament. (Translated by D. Vijeu)