Romanian journalists ask President Iohannis not to promulgate law on tax facilities granted to them

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Several journalists have signed an open letter asking President Klaus Iohannis not to promulgate the law on tax relief granted to them, a law initiated by PSD and recently voted in Parliament.

Dear Mr. President Klaus Iohannis,

We are a group of journalists from different generations and editorial offices. We are working in public media or in private media institutions, foreign-owned or with Romanian capital, in renowned media trusts or involved in young press initiatives.

Many times we have opposite stances, we are criticising each other very often and it’s very good for the audience that things are so. But, first of all, we are people dedicated to their profession and Romanian citizens, part of the community we are trying to serve,” begins the journalists’ letter.

They argue the intention to exempt journalists from the income tax is unfair and that there are no reasons for which journalists should be considered as exceptions.

“On behalf of all that is uniting us as a society, we kindly ask you not to promulgate the law on tax exemptions for journalists, recently adopted by the Chamber of Deputies. The measure is unfair first of all. Each citizen who is working must benefit of an equal fiscal regime, except for the legal provisions, for instance the disabled, etc. We consider there are no reasons for which <journalists> should make any exception. The law can be seen as a financial privilege for <journalists>, a professional category where practically anyone can be included to earn some money.

The Chamber of Deputies passed on Tuesday the draft law on completing the Fiscal Code, saying that journalists and radio and TV technicians are exempted from paying the income tax for their incomes originating from salaries and copyrights.

The law, initiated by PSD deputy Valeriu Steriu and signed by other 27 MPs from PSD, ALDE and PMP, passed by 174 votes to 2, and 91 abstentions (PNL, USR).

The journalists signing the open letter to the President further argued that mass media have much bigger issues than tax relief. “This measure would only complicate things more than help, it is incorrect and counter-productive. It is not serving the public interest, is not strengthening the freedom of speech, on the contrary, it is deeply affecting the confidence between journalists and the public”.

Adding they don’t pretend of representing all journalists in Romania, the signatories say their move is just an attempt to avoid “a real danger.”

“The limited time and the lack of a really representative NGO for mass media made is react this way, it is an imperfect attempt to react in front of a real danger.

A credible, free press, to confront the state powers and to be inconvenient to the officials elected or named to run institutions, is essential for a stable democracy,” the letter ends.

After the law had been adopted on Tuesday, many voices raised against it, saying it is just “a treacherous gift”, a form of bribing journalists. The opponents argued that it is more likely to favour the media owners than the simple journalists.

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