Florentin Pandele, the mayor of Voluntari and the husband of Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea, is against the 2018 draft budget adopted by the Government, as he says his town may lose EUR 8 million worth of revenues if this budget passes the Parliament’s vote.
The Government approved the draft budget for next year in its December 6 meeting, but the Parliament will have the final say on the budget. Thus, Pandele made a call to all the mayors in Romania to try to convince the MPs representing their counties to not support the 2018 draft budget. Otherwise, the mayor of Voluntari considers protesting in Victoriei Square.
“Today, the economic director, following some calculations, informed me that Voluntari will lose EUR 8 million, so about 20% (e.n. of the local budget). We have ongoing projects […] If it passes the vote, we’ll have nothing else left to do but stare at each other, stop the projects that we have started. I don’t want to start a scandal but it seems a little strange to me that the mayors in Romania do absolutely nothing,” Florentin Pandele said at local TV station Antena 3, reports local News.ro. He urged mayors across the country “to use all the legal levers to prevent the adoption of the draft budget.”
He also said he is determined to protest in Victorei Square if things don’t work out. Victoriei Square is the place where people have been protesting against the Government and the ruling coalition this year. However, the mayor of Voluntari said he would not join these protests, he would only protest against the adoption of this draft budget.
Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea and prime minister Mihai Tudose recently clashed over the Bucharest City Hall’s intention to organize a Christmas Fair in Victoriei Square, which would have blocked protests in in front of the Government’s headquarters. Firea gave up the idea, but accused Tudose of making inappropriate statements and trying to take over the Social Democratic Party’s leadership.
The fight for power within Romania’s biggest party was reignited after the anticorruption prosecutors started investigating PSD leader Liviu Dragnea in a new corruption case. Some of the party’s local leaders are increasingly unhappy with the way Dragnea’s legal problems reflect on PSD’s image and would be willing to back PM Tudose for president. However, Dragnea still has a powerful support from PSD organizations in Southern Romania, and Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea, one of the most popular Social Democratic leaders.
Dragnea’s faction may thus try to force Tudose’s resignation from the Government’s helm by rejecting the 2018 budget draft in the Parliament, according to the local media.
According to the draft budget for 2018, the Romanian Government expects the total budget revenues to increase by some RON 30.9 billion (EUR 6.8 billion) year-on-year, to RON 287.5 billion (EUR 63.2 billion). The total budget spending for 2018 should reach RON 314.5 billion (EUR 69.1 billion), or 34.6% of the GDP, and the budget deficit should remain under 3% of the GDP.
Big city mayors in Romania reacted in November to a fiscal measure the Government adopted by emergency ordinance, namely the cut in the individual income tax rate from 16% to 10% starting January 1, 2018. This measure would have a significant impact on the municipalities’ budgets as a part of the income tax revenues go to the local authorities. Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea was the first to raise this issue but then abandoned it as the income tax cut had been included in the Social Democratic Party’s governing program.
However, other mayors, including Iasi mayor Mihai Chirica, also a PSD member, said they were determined to use all legal means to block this measure.
Irina Marica, [email protected]