After being sworn in, the new Romanian Government gets to work.
Wednesday was a busy day in Romanian politics. After the marathon hearings in the specialized committees, the ministers in the Sorin Grindeanu Cabinet, nominated by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, received Parliament's vote of confidence, with 295 MPs voting in favour and 133 against. During the preliminary debates, the new PM said the governing programme includes all the measures that won the Social Democrats the parliamentary elections on December 11. Among others, the economic growth must reflect in Romanians' living standards, that is, in higher wages. Romania also expects foreign investors, which must find here good fiscal legislation and highly skilled labour. The PM also announced a number of concrete decisions to be taken in the forthcoming period, including an increase in the national minimum wage, currently among the lowest in the European Union.
Sorin Grindeanu: "We are planning an increase in the national minimum wage to 1,450 lei this year and to 1,750 lei by 2020. We also need to increase pensions, so as to bring the reference rate up to 45% of the national average wage by 2021, namely 1,775 lei, with a first increase to 1,000 lei operated this year. We could increase people's income by reducing the taxes charged on these revenues. A lower income tax means more money left in people's pockets. And in this respect, we are considering an income tax exemption for all revenues below 2,000 lei per month, whether we talk about pensions, salaries or revenues from independent activities."
Predictably enough, the debates in Parliament prior to the Grindeanu Cabinet swearing in were the starting point for the first Power-Opposition clash of the year. The National Liberal Party, Save Romania Union and People's Movement Party, all in Opposition, pointed out that the new Cabinet fails to meet the competence, autonomy and transparency standards that Romanians want, and that the governing programme is unrealistic. The same idea seemed to be shared by President Klaus Iohannis, judging by his somewhat ironical address upon swearing in the 27 new Cabinet members.
After the new ministers took turns swearing to serve the country, the head of state asked them to stand by their ambitious election campaign promises. He said he would like the government to explain, for instance, how it would keep the budget deficit below 3% of the GDP after the announced salary increases and tax cuts. Iohannis also said he expected support for an independent judiciary, for Romania's European and NATO membership and for a responsible handling of economic policies.
Klaus Iohannis: "First and foremost, I expect you to keep Romania's Euro-Atlantic orientation clear, visible and openly affirmed. I expect you to do everything in your power-and a lot is in your power-to support an independent judicial system. This means strengthening the rule of law. I expect you, and the whole country expects you to manage the national economy with responsibility, to the extent to which this depends on the government, but we certainly expect you to be responsible in handling the public finances."
After quickly taking over their positions from the previous cabinet, the Grindeanu government members are to set their priorities for the first part of their term in office, and present them in this Friday's cabinet meeting. The election campaign is over, the Prime Minister said, and the government must move to implement the programme that brought them in power.