The Liberal Government requests Parliament’s confidence
The minority Liberal government in Bucharest has decided to rush a number of measures through Parliament, by taking responsibility for them instead of going through the regular parliamentary endorsement procedure. This past week, the Cabinet, which came to power thanks to a no-confidence motion against the Social Democrats, introduced 3 bills concerning amendments to the justice laws, free school transport for children, pensioners and people with disabilities, and the budgetary caps for next year.
As far as the judiciary is concerned, after the Senate, as the decision-making body in this respect, adopted some of the measures planned by the Cabinet—namely a 2-year deferral of early retirement for magistrates and a 1-year deferral of the switch from 2 to 3-judge panels—the Government is only left to take responsibility for an increase of seniority requirements for entry-level magistrates. Under the law, if a censure motion is not introduced within 3 days from this procedure, the bills tabled by the Executive come into force after being signed into law by the President.
The Social Democrats, now in opposition, announced they would refer 2 of the 3 bills to the Constitutional Court, on grounds of a 2009 ruling under which the Government may only take responsibility for legislation if the parliamentary procedure is stuck and the measures in question are urgently needed. Nonetheless, the Social Democrats say they are not thinking of introducing a no-confidence motion. They argue that both the deferral of increasing seniority for entry-level magistrates and the transport regulations that the Government is pushing through Parliament are already being discussed by the legislative body and do not require an exceptional procedure.
Meanwhile, the Government also intends to request Parliament’s confidence over a number of provisions in the Emergency Order no. 114, dubbed “the greed tax order,” through which a year ago the Social Democratic Government had introduced new taxes for banks and caps on electricity and gas prices charged to households.
Opposition tables simple motion against Finance Minister
This week, the Senate adopted a simple motion tabled by the Social Democratic Party against the Liberal Finance Minister Florin Citu, with 59 to 56 votes and 2 abstentions. Under the Constitution, the endorsement of a simple motion does not necessarily entail the dismissal of the minister in question, but quite a number of voices are now calling for his resignation, also mentioning that Florin Citu had not been approved by the specialist parliamentary committees prior to his appointment.
During the debates, the Social Democrats argued that the incumbent Finance Minister made irresponsible and risky statements leading to a fall in the national currency’s exchange rate against the Euro and the US dollar, which will have ripple effects on the Romanian economy. They also criticized Minister Citu and the Cabinet as a whole for what they called “chaotic” measures concerning the budget deficit and the minimum wages.
In reply, Florin Citu says the simple motion is a purely political move, designed to divert attention from the state of Romania’s economy after 3 years of Social Democratic government. The Liberals also blame the Social Democratic Party for the recent downward adjustment of Romania’s rating from stable to negative, operated by Standard&Poor’s agency. According to the National Liberal Party, this happened because the previous Government’s excessive expenditure led to budgetary imbalances.
“How is Standrd&Poor’s not supposed to lower Romania’s rating, when this morning the budget deficit is 3.7% of the GDP, by noon it is 4.1%, in the evening it is 4.3%, but official documents say it is 4.4% of the GDP? How is the rating not to drop, when yesterday the government debt accounted for 45% of the GDP for 2020, and today it is 40%”, the Social Democrats’ former economy strategy expert Cristian Socol retorted in a Facebook post. For 2020, the Liberal Government targets a 3.6% of GDP budget deficit, with personnel expenditure of maximum 9.7% and an economic growth rate of 4%.
The President of Romania attends European Council meeting
Attending the meeting of the European Council in Brussels at the end of this week, President Klaus Iohannis announced that European leaders had decided to transfer the task of drafting the European Union’s multi-annual budget framework from the Finnish presidency of the EU Council to the presidency of the European Council.
As regards achieving a climate-neutral economy by 2050, as desired by the new European Commission, Klaus Iohannis said that Romania is in a fairly good position to meet its targets, at least until 2030.
Last but not least, with respect to the early parliamentary elections in Britain, the Romanian President voiced satisfaction with the outcome of the ballot, as well as hopes that the resulting parliamentary majority would finalise a Brexit agreement.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)