After urging the Government on Monday to come round, following the draft bill on suspending for six months the contributions to Pensions Pillar II, arguing that this is an approach at the limit of dilettante toxic governance, president Klaus Iohannis has taken a new stand against the Executive on this topic in a press statement at Cotroceni Palace on Tuesday evening. He stated that the Government must explain if it still has got money to pay pensions and salaries by the end of the year, asking the rulers what are they up to with Pensions Pillar II, considering the heated debates in the past days.
”Debates are being held about Pension Pillar II. Unfortunately even the PSD members are contradicting each other, saying that the pillar will be either suspended, or it will not, either that it is an assumed project or it is not assumed. It is a total mishmash. Do they not agree on the topic inside the party? It is hard to believe. Some are wondering if this money will be used somewhere else if the Pillar II is suspended. They must provide us with an answer. I think the Government and PSD must publicly give us a researched answer to two questions: What are you up to with Pension Pillar II? Have you still got money for pensions and salaries by the end of the year?” Iohannis stated.
Warning on EU funds: Come up with projects, we are not using the allotted money
The head of state also warned Dancila Cabinet during the press statement on the EU funds absorption, in the context of the latest data released on the European Commission website showing that Romania has used only EUR 2 billion out of those EUR 23 billion allotted for the structural funds.
”What I am about to say about the European funds represents a warning for the government. We theoretically have EUR 31 billion for 2014-2020. Out of this sum we have only used EUR 4.9 billion so far, which means 15.8%. So, we have used not even EUR 5 bln out of EUR 31 bln. These are official data from the European Commission and from the Romanian Government as well. The last note on the Government website dates back on February 2. I do not know why the government is not releasing updated information (…)”, the President said.
Iohannis also slammed the low rate of structural funds absorption, which is below 10%.
”We could use about EUR 23 billion cohesion funds, out of those EUR 31 bln, and another EUR 8 billion for agricultural policy and others. This is money that can be used for the development of the country, to build highways, for hospitals, for water networks. It is up to us how we can use the money and enforce projects. Out of EUR 23 billion we have used only EUR 2.2 billion so far, which is not even a tenth past the half budgeted period (…) My warning for the Government is that it must take care more carefully of this matter. It would be a pity to not use this money allotted for development to Romania,” Iohannis underlined.
In retort, minister for European Funds, Rovana Plumb, replied to the head of state that the PSD government ”has raced the engine at most” on the EU funds absorption in 2017, arguing that ”nothing has been done in 2016.”
”I can provide you with updated data. We have 16% absorption rate as against the European average of 18%. A government that is working under pressure cannot have maximum efficiency,” minister Plumb said.