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Premiere: CSAT asks Finance Ministry to amend amendment – session suspended until Government comes with a draft that does not affect budgets of secret services

de Razvan Diaconu , 9.9.2018

President Klaus Iohannis suspended on Tuesday the CSAT meeting for discussing the budget amendment, as there was no consensus on the budgets of institutions from the security areas.

This is a premiere in the history of the CSAT, but also in the relations between the Government and the Presidential Administration.

The President asked for a new draft from the Government, saying that the Government representatives did not explain even in the CSAT why the funds of these institutions are reduced, as they propose a “strong positive correction” as a whole.

Klaus Iohannis warned: “It is only the Government’s responsibility what will happen next. If we want to insist on political chicanery, then things might be a bit harder to solve.”

President’s announcement

President Klaus Iohannis announced at the Cotroceni Palace:

“The only topic discussed was the budget amendment. I mention: this is an obligation of the CSAT when the budgets of the defence institutions are discussed; it is not an optional question. (…) The Government did not come up with any explanation in the CSAT for these budget cuts. The heads of secret services told us the situation and explained that under these circumstances, objectives that were also set in the CSAT, also with this Government in function, cannot be achieved anymore.

Under these circumstances, there was no consensus and could not be issued the opinion needed for the budget amendment. Considering this situation, we suspended the CSAT meeting.

The budget amendment is necessary, it must be done but we must not disregard the principle of cooperation between state institutions.

We have created the possibility for the Government to come back with a new draft amendment, to cancel the cuts of funds from the national security area, which can only be explained by the political chicanery.

It is only the Government’s responsibility for what will happen next. Money is needed in many sectors. A budget amendment is necessary, but it is not acceptable to place Romania’s security in difficulty, as the amendment is a strongly positive one.

Romania is a safe country, Romanians are well defended, but these things cannot be taken for granted but because we have some efficient institutions.”

Numbers discussed – who loses, who wins

The new version of the budget amendment – different from the one published almost two weeks ago – presents consolidated general budget revenues increased compared to the previous version, from a surplus of RON 5.99 billion to RON 8.81 billion.

Under these circumstances, the SRI’s budget has been reduced by RON 113 million, SIE’s budget by RON 2.8 million, SPP’s budget by RON 15 million, STS’s budget by RON 14.2 million.

Instead, the MAI’s budget increases by RON 366.3 million.

Controversies related to CSAT’s opinion

Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici said on Monday night after the new version of the amendment had been published on the MFP website that he will not think of adjusting the draft if objections are raised in the CSAT.

The CSAT opinion is consultative, it is not an obligation, and it must be consensus within the CSAT. Even if there is no consensus after tomorrow’s meeting, it does not mean that the opinion is mandatory. What we have posted today on the website of the Ministry of Finance – this is the version we present tomorrow in the CSAT, for which we bring arguments in support to each structure. We will see if there are other counter-arguments or presentations in the CSAT from the other structures, but we maintain this version, nothing else. ”

On Monday, the Minister also outlined a brief explanation of the cuts made: “If we cut about RON 150-170 million in total, this money goes where it is needed; we are talking about pensions, salaries, swine fever, other needs that the budget has.”

Who attended the CSAT meeting

The CSAT meeting was chaired by President Klaus Iohannis. Participants were: Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, Defence Minister Mihai Fifor, Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Dan, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader, Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici, Economy Minister Danut Andrusca, Chief of Defence Staff, Nicolae Ciuca, the Head of SIE, Gabriel Vlase, Advisor to the President Ion Oprisor, CSAT Secretary Mihai Somordolea.

Head of SRI Eduard Hellvig was replaced by Razvan Ionescu, First Deputy.

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