Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Daily News – April, 21st

with one comment

President seeks gov’t explanation

President Traian Basescu yesterday summoned cabinet members to Cotroceni Palace for talks that focused most of all on budget system expense cuts. The talks were attended by PM Emil Boc and all ministers, except FM Teodor Baconschi, who is on a visit abroad, but also by several presidential aides. In the opening of talks, the first consultations between ministers and president held at Cotroceni Palace, the head of state underlined that he summoned cabinet members to learn their point of view on a wide range of issues, such as reducing budget expenses, cutting social expenditures and EU fund absorption rate. In the context, Basescu said the measures taken by the government are difficult, brave, yet absolutely necessary.

He added that a major issue the country is facing is the high volume of social expenses, that need to be cut. “At the moment, the high number of people on social assistance and a major percentage of unjustified assistance make it impossible to focus social support on categories that need it more,” he told ministers. He explained that talks would also touch upon the controversial pension law, which PM Emil Boc presented in parliament earlier yesterday. Decentralisation was another important topic to be discussed, the president said, underlining that in spite of apparent consensus of the entire political class over the matter, the process has not yet been started. “All of us talked about it in the campaign, including myself as a presidential candidate and you, for the parties you represent. The opposition also talked about decentralisation. Yet it does not actually happen,” he said.

Last but not least, the president told ministers he wanted to learn their plan as regards the situation of the National Integrity Agency (ANI), which was stripped of many of its rights and duties under a Constitutional Court ruling last week. More specifically, the court ruled that several provisions in ANI’s operation law were unconstitutional. The institution, whose main purpose is to check state officials’ wealth and interest statements, was seen as a key body in the fight against corruption. “ANI was practically dismantled by the Constitutional Court ruling. It no longer has any duties, to the great joy of some people and to Romania’s great disadvantage,” he said. Basescu added that the institution had a major contribution to the country’s regaining credibility in its efforts to escape European Commission monitoring on justice issues.

Blaga: Intelligence department did political police last year

In an interview with ‘Romania Libera’ daily, Interior Minister Vasile Blaga speaks about the situation within the Democratic Liberal Party, in the context of the criticism voiced by President Basescu against electing the party leading team based on lists.

By far the most interesting statement in the interview is that referring to the activity of the Interior Ministry’s intelligence structure, the General Department of Intelligence and Internal Protection (DGIPI), which did political police last year, according to the minister. “Unfortunately, in certain cases it did so (political police). I cannot give examples from files that are being probed by prosecutors. Nor should I know what is in those files. <> is a rather ambiguous term: has information been used to political purpose? Yes, this is clear, and you saw it yourselves in the media,” Blaga declared. According to the minister, some files held by DGIPI have been duplicated: “Indeed, copies were made after documents that were secret, top secret, even pertained to national security, and this is why seven former colleagues are being probed by the General Prosecutor’s Office and we are waiting for the conclusion of these investigations.” The minister added that some people tried to use DGIPI as a structure parallel to the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI): “At the end of 2007, in 2008 and 2009, some tried to turn DGIPI into a rival of other intelligence institutions, such as the SRI, which did much harm to the ministry and the institution.” Blaga’s statements refer to a period when the Interior Ministry was led by ministers belonging to PNL and PSD, before he was appointed last year.

Referring to the case of Senator Catalin Voicu, the minister announced that people who were connected to it either left the system, or will go in the future. The list also includes the name of Mihai Calinescu, deputy chief of Bucharest Police, who is mentioned in the Voicu transcripts. Blaga believes Calinescu too should leave the system, but for the time being he is waiting for him “to get well.” Referring to his relations with other suspects in the case, like businessmen Marius Locic and Costel Casuneanu, Blaga says he does not even know the latter, while he only met the former during the electoral campaign, as Locic controls the ‘Atac’ media trust, but had no advertising contract with his trust. Source: ‘Romania Libera’

Putin, looking ill, trumpets Russia’s economic health

MOSCOW – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the recession in Russia is over, pledging budget and healthcare reforms during his address to parliament yesterday, but kept silence on the rouble. Putin, who likes to project the image of a healthy leader, was visibly ill as he spoke with the trembling voice and coughed regularly. His speech as well as questions and answers session lacked salty jokes, which have become his personal trademark. Putin, whose speech comes under scrutiny from bankers attending the Russian sovereign Eurobond roadshow in the U.S., said the Russian economic growth may exceed the official forecast of 3.1 percent in 2010.

“Provisional results for the first quarter fuel optimism… This allows us to say that the recession is over. This does not mean that the crisis is over,” Putin said. Putin, Russia’s most popular politician in opinion polls, stepped down as president after eight years of oil-fuelled economic boom to become prime minister only months before the economic crisis struck.

Putin credited his government with averting an economic collapse similar to the 1998 financial meltdown. Investors are gleaning his public speeches and behaviour for any clues to his political future but he made no reference to the 2012 presidential elections.

Russia should spend state money more wisely rather than increase taxes on the fragile economy and proposed a reform of state finances in the coming years in order to halve the budget deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2012, Putin said. He was vague on details. Russia will however proceed with the planned social security tax hike by two percentage points from next year, a measure staunchly opposed by business lobbies. The money will be used to reform the healthcare system, he said. “More than 30 percent of the country’s medical institutions are in a critical state or require a financial overhaul. Therefore, within the next two years, we will assign about 300 billion roubles ($10.30 billion) to bring the country’s health system to order.”

Putin, who said several times during his speech that Russia needed responsible macroeconomic policy, did not mention the strengthening rouble, which some say represents the biggest single threat to his plans to return Russia to the growth path. Source: Reuters


Written by Theophyle

April 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] insa si supozitii extrem de incerte. Articolul publicat de mine  pe Politea Digest se numeste “Putin, looking ill, trumpets Russia’s economic health”, adica “Putin aratand bolnav, trambiteaza sanatatea economica a Rusiei.” Datele din articol […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: