Romanian PM Victor Ponta (in picture) threw down the gauntlet by claiming that the delay in passing a law allowing local authorities to choose not increase local taxes was President Traian Basescu’s fault. The PM said that the President’s failure to promulgate a law that allowed Parliament to enact such legislation during the parliamentary holidays caused the delay. The quarrel is quite unusual as it centers on a request not to increase taxes, rather than increase them.
The dispute arose following a request filed by former PM Emil Boc, now mayor of the city of Cluj, for the Government to immediately pass an ordinance allowing local authorities to choose not to apply an inflation-based adjustment of local taxes. Boc claimed that the law, which would have left local tax adjustment in the hands of the local authorities, had not already been adopted “out of stupidity or of a special interest not to do it,” as reported by the Romanian press.
The official response to Boc’s request clearly pointed out that the Ordinance could not have been adopted because the Government had not been empowered to do so by the President. “At the time of the Government meeting of January 5, 2013, the text of the Ordinance for the amendment of the Tax Code as regards local taxes and duties was prepared”, read a press release of the Government’s press office issued on January 7. “The ordinance could not be adopted because President Basescu promulgated the law empowering the Government to issue ordinances during the parliamentary holidays only after the end of that meeting.”
The Presidential Administration countered by pointing out that, in fact, President Basescu had signed the respective law on January 3, 2013, two days before the Government ordinance in question was included on the Government’s agenda.
PM Ponta took an ironic stand on the matter and drew Mayor Boc’s attention as to the procedures that must be observed and which require that a specific number of days pass between the time a law is promulgated and the time it enters into force. “Mister Boc is being his usual self. […] He knows very well – or he should know, as he acted as PM for three years […] – that President Basescu, his idol, promulgated the Law empowering the Government only Friday,” stated PM Ponta. “The Law enters into force three days as of its publication. So, tomorrow [January 8, e.n.] I can publish it.”
The passing of the ordinance at the root of this dispute was postponed for next week.
On December 28, 2012, the Romanian Government published in the Official Romanian Journal a decision concerning the adjustment of local taxes and duties based on the inflation rate over the past three years, which translated into a 16.05 percent increase. The Government initially claimed that this decision was only meant to give the local authorities an estimate, not to take away the rights of local authorities to set local tax levels.
Ioana Jelea, firstname.lastname@example.org
photo source: gov.ro