The Government should take measures about “the banking greed and the ROBOR evolution,” Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD), said in a speech delivered at the National Council of the PSD on December 16. Dragnea targeted multinationals and energy companies and brought into discussion the turnover tax.
“We need a Government, a coalition, to tell banks and also multinationals in Romania, that this country has a right to ask them, from the huge profits they make here, to pay their taxes here and not in fiscal heavens or in their countries of origin; because they make the money here, in Romania, with Romanians […] I am telling everybody that Romania is not a lawless state. We cannot just sit around and watch our resources being taken away,” Dragnea said, quoted by Hotnews.ro.
The PSD leader argued that all countries expect the banking system to make a profit but by supporting the economy.
“If they made a profit supporting the economy, it was alright; if not, I say that any kind of greed, in any area, needs to be restrained. I am sure you have enough methods, enough ideas for these measures to come up very fast. Maybe event this week, Mr. Teodorovici [e.n. the finance minister], Mr. Vâlcov [e.n a former finance minister and the current economic adviser of prime minister Viorica Dancila.], are you here, you corrupt?,” Dragnea said. He asked the Government to take measures about “the banking greed and the ROBOR evolution.”
Speaking of the companies active in the energy sector, Dragnea said gas prices could increase and suggested a turnover tax would be needed if these companies do not make a profit.
“A multinational in the energy sector, serious business, has a profit of 0.8 per 1,000; imagine how these people struggle, with businesses of billions of euros a profit of 0.8 per 1,000 […] Let’s talk about the gas price, the gas from Romania’s underground. I understand that, using the pretext of liberalization, energy and gas companies plan to set off other price increases. The gas is in the same place, it gets extracted from the same place […] I think that the government led by Ms. Dăncilă no longer wants to tolerate such a behavior, and from here, from the tribune of the National Council, I ask you to intervene urgently. Meaning, in the areas we have talked about so far, in energy, gas, justice, in gambling, there is a profit tax; if they don’t make a profit, look at the turnover,” he said, quoted by Hotnews.ro.
Last year, the Government was looking at introducing a turnover tax, a measure which was eventually dropped.
Dragnea spoke of a fight with “those who look greedily to our energy potential, to our resources.” “And those who are angry that Romania is first in the EU on sunflower and corn [production]. Did the weather or the land change in these two years? No. The Government changed. Do you not remember that in 2016 we were all asking [e.n. former prime minister] Cioloş to give subsidies for agriculture and he did not want to? Not that France would be upset that Romania is on the first spot on some agricultural crops. It is just a coincidence,” Dragnea said, quoted by Mediafax.
He also requested measures concerning mobile telephony companies “because we all speak on the phone for the satisfaction of intelligence officers, but they should pay as they should.”
In the same speech, Dragnea called president Klaud Iohannis not “the puppeteer” of the system but a mere “puppet.” “He is a president who was and can be blackmailed, a president with a key,” he said, quoted by News.ro.
Dragnea also spoke of attacks to Romania’s position in the European Union. “Our country was actually accused of things that happen everywhere in the EU. […] Everywhere in Europe, parliaments are sovereign, they represent the sovereignty and exert the sovereignty of people. What were we told? That Romania’s Parliament is an institution like any other, that we should suspend the laws that Romania’s Parliament adopted,” he said.
The European Commission’s latest report on Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) notes that the country has reversed the progress of its judicial reform and the fight against corruption. The EC recommended Romania to suspend immediately the implementation of the new justice laws and subsequent emergency ordinances and to review them taking into account the recommendations under the CVM and those issued by the Venice Commission and GRECO.
The PSD president said Romania was tricked with the CVM. “For too long Romania was tricked and strapped with the CVM. The CVM started with four, if I remember well, and these four initial targets decreased until they became 14 – 18. So the CVM is like the line of the horizon, the closer you get to it, the same distance it keeps.”
At the same time, the PSD leader asked the Government to make a decision on amnesty and pardoning, claiming that this is needed in order to “repair abuses and injustices”. He said he was not afraid to speak of amnesty and pardoning “although these words seems to be a blasphemy in Romania.” He also called the two issues “a duty” of the PSD - ALDE Government.
Opposition leaders react
Reacting to Dragnea’s speech, Ludovic Orban, the president of the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL), said the PSD president took a strong anti-European stance, and declared war to all of the country’s partners in the EU and NATO.
“Liviu Dragnea has lost all contact with reality and was determined to prove it to the entire country in the PSD meeting. It is unbelievable how this character thinks he can arrange the entire Romanian state to his whims,” Orban said, quoted by Mediafax. He also asked the PSD-ALDE MPs to support the no-confidence vote against the Government.
Eugen Tomac, the president of the People’s Movement Party (PMP) called the PSD leader “paranoiac” and argued his place was “either at Bălăceanca [e.n. a mental health hospital] or at Rahova [e.n. a prison].”
Meanwhile, Dan Barna, the president of the Save Romania Union (USR), warned that if the amnesty and pardoning get passed, “the PSD will throw Romania into a true revolution.”