Statements by Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă at the start of the Cabinet meeting

08 February

Good afternoon. Today, we will adopt the draft budget for 2019. It has been widely discussed by all the relevant parties, and when building it we counted on the support of three main pillars: health, education, public investment.

We also took into account budgetary allocations that will honour Romania’s commitments to external partners, such as 2pct of GDP for defence spending, which ensures Romania’s meeting its commitments in relation to NATO partners, and the amounts needed to organise the events of the Romanian presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Ministry of European Funds has a record budget of 2.3 billion lei, of which 2,09 billion budget appropriations are earmarked for European projects.

For the first time, the value of the GDP will exceed 1,000 billion lei, which is additional confirmation of good economic stimulus measures.

I would like to further outline some important lines of the budgetary construction for 2019. We have secured financing to cover the increase in public pensions and wages, the payment of social security benefits and allowances and the support of economic stimulus policies, all measures undertaken under the programme for government. We continue to increase the pension point by 15pct as from September 1, 2019, from 1.100 to 1,265 lei, and the minimum pension by 10pct, from 640 to 704 lei. We have covered the increase in the differentiated minimum guaranteed monthly wage to 2,080 lei from 1,900 lei last year, and to 2,350 lei for higher education graduates with at least one-year job seniority, and to 3,000 lei for persons employed by companies with at least 80pct of their turnover in the construction sector.

Healthcare. Healthcare is the first priority for us. This year’s healthcare funding will stand 6.1 billion over the 2018 allocations, as after the 2018 salary rises, investment in healthcare facilities is required. We are preoccupied not only with the increase in healthcare revenues but we also want investment in healthcare facilities.

We will complete investment in the healthcare facilities’ rehabilitation, expansion and equipment started in the past years, such as the Timisoara Pediatric Hospital, the hospitals in Falticeni, Neamt, Hunedoara and Bistrita. This year, the Ministry of Health has prioritised the improvement of healthcare services for children under the National Mother and Child Healthcare Programme, under which 1,000 incubators will be acquired.

Education. Education has been allocated 47pct more funds than in 2018 in this year’s budget, from 21 billion lei to 30.8 billion lei, with the money going both towards investment and salary increases.

I will mention some important programmes to be carried out over the next period: equipping each the 5th-12th grade classroom with interactive electronic boards, worth 0.7 billion lei, for about two million children, as well as a 25 percent increase in the net income of teachers.

Investment. As I said it many times, 2019 will be the year of investment. We allocate 49.65 billion lei (4.86 percent of GDP) to investment in the draft budget, by 45 percent more funds than in 2018.

An important allocation concerns the Transport Ministry where there is an addition of 6 billion lei, by 74.4 percent more than in 2018.

Local budgets benefit this year of a record allocation. The overall amounts to be distributed from state budget revenues and subsidies stand at 47. 9 billion lei, by 19. 3 percent more than in 2018, which represents 61. 4 percent of the overall local budgets revenues.

The income tax collected to state budget goes 100 percent to local budgets, respectively 22.2 billion lei, compared to 15 billion as it was allocated in 2018.

Therefore, the budget for 2019 is a balanced one, focusing on supporting both social and development policies.

At the end of the Cabinet meeting, the Public Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici will detail the provisions of the budget for 2019 in a press conference.

We conclude today yet another week of intense activity and important decisions for the future of the EU as state holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Essential talks on the Gas and copyright Directives are scheduled for today. I am sure that by the end of the day, Romania will prove once again that it observes its strategic partnerships and that it successfully fulfills its role during this six-month tenure.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we paid an important visit to Brussels, one with strong connotations. I had very important meetings with the First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. I also presented the priorities of the rotating presidency at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, structure that acts as a bridge connecting local and regional authorities with European institutions. I am glad that we endorse a common objective, and I refer to the need of maintaining cohesion funds and the continuation of this policy that will contribute to a balanced development of all European regions.

A very important moment to us was the Conference on the fight against anti-Semitism, an important event organized by the Romanian presidency of the EU Council. I was keen on holding this event as the first one organized by Romania as holder of the rotating presidency, in order to convey a strong message.

I had excellent meetings with the World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, with the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee David Harris, with the Secretary General of the World Jewish Restitution Organisation Collette Avital, and with a series of other representatives of Jewish communities.

I want to underline that within the month since taking over the mandate, Romania has carried out around 70 trilogues, meetings with the European Parliament, during which concrete results have been achieved.

We have succeeded in reaching consensus on 24 dossiers regarding topics of impact for the daily life of the citizens, I am referring to agriculture and fishery, environment, transport, communications and the information society, labour and workers’ protection, competitiveness and finance.

Therefore, we are actively involved in all the actions which the rotating Presidency of the EU Council implies.

All our actions have the European citizens at the core and I am glad that we have good cooperation with the other European institutions, I’m referring to the European Parliament and the European Commission. We want to keep this pace in the other months too and to finalize as many dossiers as possible.

Last but not least, we are hosting these days the first Justice and Home Affairs Council, one of the most important events since we took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. Topics of common interest for all member states and the European institutions are under debate, such as: migration, combating terrorism, police cooperation and the future of the Schengen area.

It is a good opportunity to firmly say that the accession to Schengen Area is a national objective and that Romania meets all conditions for this to happen. I want to congratulate the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of National Defence for the way in which they organized these important meetings and they represented Romania there.

Finally, I would like to make some remarks on the President’s decision to reject again the nominee for the Ministry of Development.

Therefore, we have set the budgetary resources to boost investments that Romanians need: investment in infrastructure, in schools and kindergardens, in modernizing localities. Local communities need this aid and we make every effort to uniformly develop each region of the country, in order to provide a better life to all Romanians.  The Ministry of Development needs a holder, especially during this time when we are holding the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe, a dedicated minister, with experience.

That is precisely why I nominated Lia Olguta Vasilescu for this office, given that she has a vast experience in local administration and Ministerial activity. Lia Olguta Vasilescu is the minister who successfully managed two of the most complex laws adopted by the current ruling coalition, and I am referring to the unitary pay law and the pensions law. Therefore, the arguments brought by our country’s President, for what is actually a blockage of Government’s activity, are unbelievable.

I proved that I am as open and patient as possible with the President, who only responded with attacks and repeated attempts to block the Government’s activity. It is regrettable that the President of Romania wants to impede investments at local level and that he doesn’t care he risks blocking the implementation of such vital projects for the citizens.

 I believe this cannot continue any longer!

 I asked Mr President to stop playing these political games. Romania is more important, Romanians are much more important than an electoral campaign or political games. The conflict that the President is maintaining, doesn’t help the economy or bring anything good in the Romanians’ lives. The citizens don’t need political fights, they need investments and the Government must be allowed to work for that to happen.

 The meeting agenda also contains a draft law designed to upgrade the procedures for acquiring and keeping the rights to additional pensions for workers. This draft law ensures the framework necessary for the protection of workers’ mobility, framework which any additional pension scheme should observe, and which does not regulate the setting up of a new scheme of additional pensions in Romania. More favorable provisions for acquiring and keeping the rights to additional pension for workers who cease their activity, can be adopted later.

At the end of the Cabinet meeting, the Government Spokesman will detail the legislative documents that we will adopt during today’s meeting. Thank you.



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