RO President asks lawmakers to reconsider land transfer to Chamber of Commerce
President Klaus Iohannis returned to Parliament the draft law that aims to transfer 46 hectares of land in Bucharest's central business district (CBD) to Romania's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIR), free of charge, Economica.net reported.
As inked and passed by the lawmakers, the draft law provides insufficient guarantees regarding the intended use of the land and lacks clarity about the final beneficiary of the land, the Presidency notes.
The law, authored by the Popular Movement Party (PMP) of former President Traian Basescu, received support from both the Social Democrats (PSD) and Liberals (PNL).
However, the bill was referred to the Constitutional Court by the reformist Save Romania Union (USR), which did not see the public benefits of granting free of charge a plot of land evaluated at over EUR 300 million to a private entity like CCIR (actually the beneficiary of the land is Romexpo - the country's biggest exhibition center - controlled by CCIR).
The Court didn't see any constitutional issue and cleared the draft leaving president Iohannis with the delicate mission of either promulgating the bill (and accepting the political cost of a rather obscure deal) or returning the bill to lawmakers, potentially generating a conflict within the ruling coalition.
The narrative of those criticizing the land transfer is that it represents an unjustified transfer of wealth to CCIR, which wants to put the land at the disposal of major real estate developer and investor Iulius Group for a EUR 2 bln mixed-use project.
In its turn, on a more pragmatic note, CCIR argues that its rights to use the land for another 33 years invalidates any alternative plan - unless the state accepts to pay the EUR 300 mln compensations included in the concession contract for the case of nationalization.
The president's request goes along with the idea of limiting the benefits generated by the transfer of land in line with the existing rights held by CCIR.