Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, August 1 - 16, 2018
On Friday, August 10, approximately 100,000 people gathered in Victoria Square to challenge the current Gov’t coalition. Contrary to other such rallies from the past, this one was marked by violent incidents (e.g. the gendarmes used pepper spray and water cannons on protesters). At day’s end, several hundred people had received emergency care and one handgun is still missing. However, despite protests continuing throughout the weekend and gathering tens of thousands of people, no other major occurrences have been noted.


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Fiscal Policies Review, August 6 - 13, 2018
On August 6, the Ministry of Public Finances put up for debate the budget adjustment (general budget & social insurance budget). The official press release informs that the positive adjustment keeps under the deficit target (2.97%) with a GDP growth of 5.5%. In nominal terms, the GDP advanced to RON 945 billion from the initial estimation of RON 907.9 billion. As announced by PM Dăncilă in the sitting held on August 2 when the adjustment was first presented, additional funds go to local budgets (RON 1,125.9 million), Ministry of Health (RON 333.6 million), Ministry of Finances (RON 1,278.8 million), Ministry of Interior, National education, Transports, Agriculture, SGG, FNUASS, Social Insurance Budget. On August 6, the Central Bank decided to maintain the key interest rate at 2.5%. Two days later BNR Governor Mugur Isărescu presented the August report on inflation. The main message was against stimulating the demand, as it will lead to higher imports. The Governor also pointed out that the GDP growth is rather closer to the 4% tier than to the 5.5% announced by the Government. In the context of the budget adjustment and of the growing risk of exceeding the deficit, considering BNR’s warnings on inflation, the Government put up for debate the new Pension Law. According to Minister of Labor Lia Olguța Vasilescu, the retirement age remains unchanged. The pension budget will also have to be increased by RON 15 billion by 2022, Minister Vasilescu also highlighted on Friday, August 10, as “pensions will be doubled.”


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Fiscal Policies Review July 30 - August 6, 2018
In an interview for DCNews, FinMin Teodorovici argued that the minimum wage should only be enforced to public administration and not to private companies. Two days later, Minister of Labor Lia Olguța Vasilescu contradicted Teodorovici, stressing that the minimum wage will not be eliminated. On the other hand Teodorovici’s statement gained traction from the business environment, the Association of Romanian Businessmen calling for public debates on the issue of maintaining or eliminating the minimum wage. On Wednesday, August 1st, the Constitutional Court of Romania published the motivation behind the decision of unconstitutionality of the Draft Bill for the creation of the Development and Investment Sovereign Fund (FSDI). CCR’s decision highlights that regardless of the legal nature of FSDI, its establishment must be enacted as an administrative measure, (Gov’t’s decision) and not through a law adopted in Parliament. On July 18, the Court ruled that the Fund must be established through Gov’t Resolution. The National Council for SMEs (CNIPMMR) argued against the establishment of the Fund, deeming it illegal.              


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, July 18 – August 1, 2018
On July 24th, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated that the referendum for redefining the term “family” in the Constitution is to be held either on September 30th or in the first week of October. Dragnea said that the Senate should vote on the issue immediately after the end of the Parliamentary recess, in September, arguing that three million citizens support the initiative. On a related note, Dragnea also mentioned that in autumn, a separate discussion should be initiated on a law that deals with civil partnership. “I never was and never will be intolerant (…) We need to clarify the notion of family, but also that of 'civil partnership'”. Dragnea stated, however, that he maintains some reservations with regards to the possibility of same-sex couples launching an adoption claim.


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Fiscal Policies Review July 23 - 30, 2018
Discussions over the fiscal amnesty continued over the past week, FinMin Teodorovici highlighting that it will only include state-run companies with historical debts, and that erasing individuals’ debts, albeit his party colleagues, are out of the question. According to the FinMin, erasing state-run companies’ debts would help them resume their economic activity. Taking into account the deficit increase, an issue that has a potential snowball effect, FinMin Teodorovici presented alternative sources for public finances: insolvencies, cigarette smuggling & VAT recoveries. It is expected that the Gov’t amends insolvency legislation, fact also confirmed by PM advisor Darius Vâlcov. A growing public presence, Vâlcov presented the main lines the Gov’t is expected to pursue this autumn: insolvencies, Pillar II pensions, and the Sovereign Fund. Last Monday (July 23) PM Viorica Dăncilă presented her cabinet’s six month report. The overall positive conclusions highlighted investment and wage increases. More so, the Gov’t shows that revenues to the budget spiked by 12% in Q1 2018 against Q1 2017. However, also last week, the FinMin presented rather worrisome figures on the budget deficit which spiked to 1.61% in June, from 0.88% in May.


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