Finance Minister, Eugen Teodorovici, has pointed out two issues, in response to the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu’s criticism addressed to the Government for the lack of mature projects sent to Brussels. She insisted on building the Iasi-Targu Mures highway in concession, given that there is European money for this project.
In Romania, it was not the money issue when talking about projects, but of the way some ministries ‘understand’ to use the money, Finance Minister, Eugen Teodorovici, said on Monday.
“There is European money, it always was in Romania too. However, it was not the issue of money when it comes to talking about projects, but about the way some ministries understand to use this money, whether it comes from the budget, it is European money or from other sources of financing,” Teodorovici said.
“So, it is not the problem of funding. Mrs. Commissioner may be right when referring to what we could send to Brussels in order to get the approval, in terms of request for funding. There is a difference, and I hope the central and local authorities understand that two issues should not be connected, i.e. the request for funding of one project or another, addressed to Brussels, and the task books that should be introduced into the electronic system for public procurement so that the works start effectively. Unfortunately, the two issues are still related. I’ve always recommended that the entities focus on launching a project for implementation, whereas the talks with Brussels for settlement is another issue, a very important one, so that the project is not paid by the budget,” Teodorovici said.
Referring to another statement made by Corina Cretu, the minister said ‘it is not written anywhere’ that European money cannot fund a public-private partnership system.
“We, the Finance Ministry, we will have talks with each minister to find out exactly what each one of them requests, if it can be done and can be settled from European money, but if it is paid from the state budget, there is a huge problem. One has no justification if he has the chance to use European money but he comes with requests to the state budget. The discussion on the issue started this summer. (…) In the coming days we will find out the general situation, about what bills each ministry has sent to Brussels for settlement. Then, when talking about budget rectification and about the budget for 2019, we would consider everything. First of all we should see what can be spent with European funds and only then we analyze if we accept the expenses from the budget,” Minister Teodorovici said.
On Monday, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, criticized the absence of projects from the Bucharest authorities and publicly warned that she will no longer accept insults from the Romanian Government regarding her work.
She has also provided concrete examples, citing the case of the Târgu Mureş-Iaşi highway, about which the Bucharest Government recently decided that the Târgu Neamţ-Iaşi section should be built by public-private partnership, although there is European money for its construction, including for the feasibility studies.
“Târgu Mureş-Iaşi, first of all, is a priority for the European Commission, and I say it with all sincerity here, on the podium of the European Commission, we need to complete the infrastructure projects connecting Europe, especially with the Republic of Moldova, Moldavia , Central and Eastern Europe. We have money for feasibility studies, we have no demand for these feasibility studies,” said Corina Cretu.
“If we make the offer and we can do this feasibility study by 2020-2021 and start building, I think we will be a step forward. Unfortunately, we saw that in its sitting the Government announced that it wants to build this highway in the public-private partnership system,” Corina Cretu said.
She warned that Commission specialists “don’t feel comfortable with this approach because it means deprioritizing this investment.”
“EUR 2 billion has been lost, unfortunately in the most vulnerable and most necessary area for Romania, the one of transport. For the period 2014-2020, we are making superhuman efforts to avoid fund disengagement,” Corina Creţu again warned, asking for “new, mature projects”.