Fiscal Policies Review, May 29 - June 4, 2018
The Government did not give a final answer on what would happen to Pillar II. While PM Dăncilă continues to deny that Pillar II is to be suspended, Minister of Labor Lia Olguța Vasilescu stated that Pillar II is going to be optional, a proposal that PM Dăncilă said she was not informed about. A broad discussion concerning the issue is expected to continue over the following “one or two weeks”.               During the Government Sitting of May 31, the Executive adopted a Draft Emergency Ordinance regarding the establishment, organization and functioning of the National Office for Centralized Procurement. The new structure is expected to run as a special unit within the Ministry of Public Finances after the merger with a structure already existing within the Ministry of Health. During a press conference held on May 30, FinMin Teodorovici announced that the Office will be up and running starting with July 1, 2018.             Also this week, the Gov’t adopted a memorandum on Romania’s Economic Code. According to the Executive’s spokesperson, Nelu Barbu, the Code will comprise the Fiscal Code, the Fiscal Procedure Code and other laws with an economic character. Barbu added that before being published for debate and adopted by the Parliament, the Economic Code will first be discussed with employers’ unions, business associations, NGOs and public authorities.  


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, May 23 - 30, 2018
The Constitutional Court (CCR) ruled on May 30th that there is an institutional conflict between the Gov’t and the Presidency over the proposed dismissal of Laura Codruța Kovesi, DNA Head Prosecutor. According to CCR, President Klaus Iohannis should have dismissed Laura Codruța Kovesi at the request of JustMin Tudorel Toader back in February. The vote was 6 to 3, with judges Livia Stanciu, Daniel Morar and Ştefan Minea having dissenting opinions. "The President of Romania is going to issue the dismissal decree for DNA Head Prosecutor, Mrs. Laura Codruţa Kövesi" CCR's decision reads. CCR's decision does not provide a deadline for the dismissal decree. CCR will also have to publish the decision in the Official Gazette; CCR's decisions become mandatory after being published in the Official Gazette. President Iohannis will have to sign the decree, however, given that the Court provided no deadline, the President does not have to act until the decision is published in the Official Gazette, then sign the decree. The other scenario is that Iohannis signs the decree and appoints Kovesi back at DNA, as interim-head prosecutor.


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Fiscal Policies Review, May 21 - 29, 2018
On May 23, FinMin Teodorovici announced that by the end of June, beginning of July, a new concept on Pillar II will be presented to the public. A broad discussion concerning the issue will take place over the following “one or two weeks”. Also on May 23 evening, FinMin Teodorovici held a press conference; main points: public procurement and the introduction of centralized procurement. On Friday, May 25, FinMin Teodorovici came back on the subject and said that Pillar II is currently under analysis in order to be improved, however contributions will not be suspended. Initially Gov’t’s Legislative Agenda read that payments were suspended for six months (July – December). The Ministry of Public Finances published a press release stating that the Government does not intend to dissolve Pillar II, and that the EC has not been informed of such intentions, contradicting PNL Senator Cîțu’s claims. Divergences over the subject are expected to continue.             The EC country specific recommendation was received (May 23), as expected, with mixed views. Dan Nica, leader of Soc-Dem MEPs argued that it contradicts all “alarmist news” and that it confirms that Romania does not face short-term fiscal sustainability risks. On the opposite end, Dan Barna, USR leader, stated that the European Commission, naturally ascertains that Romania is in “full economic and justice slippage”.  


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Progress Report on the Priorities of the European Commission, May 16 - 23, 2018
A press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs that it has taken note of specific country recommendations published by the European Commission in the framework of the European Semester 2018 and will coordinate the process of drawing up the national position on this issue in order to secure active participation in the decision-making process, which will result the Council of the European Union adopting such recommendations. According to the release, in the period immediately ahead, the proposals for recommendations submitted by the European Commission will be subject to an in-depth analysis at the level of the ministries responsible for the areas concerned so that the concrete implementation measures can be identified.


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Fiscal Policies Review, May 14 - 21, 2018
On May 20, the news broke that a draft bill on regulating privately administered mandatory pensions (Pillar II) is on the Gov’t’s legislative program for 2018. The official document reads that contributions for July – December 2018 are to be suspended. Minister of Labor Vasilescu promptly reacted and stressed that Pillar II will not be dissolved, while Ion Ghizdeanu, president of the Committee for Strategy and Forecast stated that publishing the information was only a material error.  Immediate negative reactions to the news came, among others, from the Association for Privately Administered Pensions, Romanian Business Leaders, PNL’s Florian Cîțu, and former PM Victor Ponta. On Monday, May 21, PSD’s Liviu Dragnea said that Pillar II may or may not be suspended based on Gov’t’s assessment. On May 15, Deputy PM Viorel Ștefan held a press conference where he presented the status of the Romanian economy in 2018’s first quarter. Among the main points presented by the official: pensions’ fund deficit reduced to less than half of its value in 2016, the country’s economic growth ranks fifth among the 28 EU countries, the number of unemployed individuals reduced by 92,000 since 2017, 695,000 Romanians are no longer in the poverty risk zone. Deputy PM Ștefan stated that the Government aims for investments to be become the main economic engine in 2018. On May 16, PM Dăncilă announced a new state aid scheme. The program is designed to support foreign investments of more than EUR 10 million. The PM sees the new program as a clear signal that the Government wants to encourage major investments in Romania.


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