The agenda of the Romanian Parliament is dominated this week by the discussion of the 2019 budget bill
Unless anything unpredictable occurs, Romania will have its state budget for this year on the 15th of February. After being adopted by the government formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, the bill has reached Parliament, where it will be amended, examined by the specialist committees and debated in plenary session. The speakers of the Senate and of the Chamber of Deputies have decided that a final vote will be held on Friday. The budget is based on an economic growth rate of 5.5%, a deficit level of 2.5% and a GDP of more than 200 billion euros. Also, 2% of the GDP is again earmarked for defence in keeping with the commitments made by Romania before its NATO allies.
The Senate speaker and president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Calin Popescu-Tariceanu has admitted that the bill can be improved: “Unfortunately, in the last ten years, probably because of the sluggish legislation on public procurement, at the end of each year we realise that the money allocated to various areas, in particular investment, is not spent. It’s probably because of a flaw in the legislation, but also in the way in which the institutions of the central administration are organised, and this is why we run out of money. So, if we are not able to spend all the money, what’s the use of providing for extra money?”
The number one in the ruling coalition, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and the president of the Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea says the budget bill looks very well, but that some of the additional funds allocated to the intelligence services must be redirected to important areas such as healthcare. The Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, who have an agreement of parliamentary collaboration with the majority, argue for more money for the local communities.
Whether Liberals or Social Democrats, the mayors of the big cities are all in agreement on one thing. They say that although the local authorities are to receive more money, city halls are also to take over from the central budget large part of the social expenses. Dragnea’s most vocal rival within the party, Bucharest’s mayor Gabriela Firea, says the city stands to lose 180 million euros, which amounts to almost a quarter of its budget. From the opposition, the National Liberal Party says the budget bill has reached MPs at a very late stage.
The Liberal MP Raluca Turcan: “Unfortunately, we have increasingly consistent information that both the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats have intentionally submitted the budget bill in conditions of unconstitutionality so as to delay the vote and debate on the budget bill and gain more time with respect to the expenses they must take responsibility for.”
The People’s Movement Party have already announced that they are considering challenging the bill before the Constitutional Court. The Save Romania Union have virulently criticised the bill, which they say is not about Romania, but the result of the creative imagination of a small group of politicians and contains figures based on highly optimistic scenarios. (Translated by C. Mateescu)