The Romanian Government is faced with the first no-confidence motion
The Romanian Government, made up of the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Romania and headed by the Social Democrat Mihai Tudose has this week been faced with its first no-confidence motion, filed by the right-wing opposition. 223 votes were needed for the motion to pass, but only 159 MPs supported it. The signatories to the motion, deputies and senators members of the National Liberal Party, the Save Romania Union, the People's Movement Party and other non-affiliated politicians, called for the resignation of the Cabinet, blaming it for disturbing the economic environment and the legal system and for damaging people's living standards.
They believe that the changes brought to the Fiscal Code in particular, according to which the obligation to pay social security contributions has been shifted from employers to employees, and the drop in the income tax from 16% to 10% as of January 1, 2018, will have devastating effects on the economy. In response, the Prime Minister claims that, thanks to this fiscal reform, more money will enter the state budget and the pension fund next year, and businesses will benefit from simplified procedures. Also, the Prime Minister has given assurances that the 2018 draft budget will be finalized soon, and local governments will have their shares secured, so as to have no reason to raise taxes and fees.
The National Anticorruption Directorate forfeits the Social Democrat leader's assets and accounts
This week, the National Anticorruption Directorate has forfeited the accounts and assets owned by Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, the main party in the ruling coalition in Romania. The decision was made in order to recover the 27 million Euro damage caused by his involvement in a case in which he is accused of setting up an organized crime group and abuse of office. This case, the third involving Liviu Dragnea, is related to the rehabilitation of roads using European money, back when Dragnea was president of the Teleorman County Council. Liviu Dragnea believes he is just the victim of a political campaign and has contested the decision. Liviu Dragnea:
"I have been a target every time the Social Democratic Party wanted to do something for Romania. Now I am being used as a means to block the justice laws".
The bill amending the justice laws has been contested by civil society, opposition and magistrates, and also by the president of the country Klaus Iohannis. They have all stated there are no serious grounds for such haste in changing the laws and blame the government for lack of transparency in drafting the bill. Here is the head of the Anticorruption Directorate Laura Codruta Kovesi:
"There is no magistrate in Romania who would deny that there are problems the three bills try to address, such as the magistrates' career, promotion and other issues. However, what the magistrates have contested is the total lack of transparency, as there have been no consultations on the matter. It's an attempt to increase the authority of the Justice Minister over prosecutors, which would seriously affect the independence of the latter and also, indirectly, the judges' independence."
Romania purchases Patriot missile defense systems
Romania will purchase 7 Patriot systems, for a combined 3.9 billion USD plus VAT. The Defence Minister Mihai Fifor says the purchase will strengthen national and regional security and will help consolidate the Romanian-American strategic partnership. Mihai Fifor:
"The Romania-USA strategic partnership launched on July 11, 1997, has been a major landmark in Romania's foreign policy, and an efficient instrument to support the domestic defence efforts. This purchase will also entail a stronger military cooperation between Romania and the US, transfers of technologies and sensitive information, and enhanced confidence between the two allies."
Patriot systems are regarded as the world's most advanced technology in the field, with state-of-the-art interceptor missiles and complex radar systems able to detect and respond to threats within seconds.
The Gaudeamus Book Fair opens its gates in Bucharest
The Gaudeamus Book Fair has just opened its gates in Bucharest. Organized by Radio Romania, the only radio station in the world that takes part in such an undertaking, the fair has turned into a landmark, for both specialists and the larger audience. Hundreds of exhibitors are taking part in this year's edition of the fair, which will host no less than 800 events, including book and audio-book launches, book signing sessions, meetings with writers, historians, editors, translators, literary critics, political experts, photographers and journalists.
The guest of honour this year is not a country, as it used to be before, but the very European Commission. The fair thus celebrates several major events: 60 years since the signing of the Rome Treaty, 30 years since the launch of the Erasmus programme and ten years since Romania joined the European Union. The honorary president of the fair is this year the famous Romanian born playwright and journalist Matei Visniec. The record of the Gaudeamus fair, which has been held for two decades now, includes more than 1.7 million visitors and some 6,200 exhibitors, making Radio Romania national leader in the field.
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