Traian Basescu held on Thursday his first press conference at the presidential palace, discussing Romania's priorities, ensuring his listeners that Romania has all it takes to avoid being affected by the international financial crisis and criticized Standard&Poor's claiming that their evaluation is not credible. The head of state also appealed to unions to postpone their protests until after the elections and ensured teachers that the 50% raise will come into force as soon as a new Government is installed after the elections.
The main statements made by Traian Basescu:
About unions and reforms:
- An electoral cycle ends today, the electoral campaign start tomorrow. It is a good time to discuss Romania's priorities;
- Imagine Romania in 2020-2030, when an inhabitant of the rural area still has to go to the county capital to find a doctor, a country in which no doctor would look at you without paying a small bribe;
- The quality teachers are far gone in the private sector, the doctors are abroad already;
- The reality can be corrected, so I decided to talk about the priorities we have in the Parliament;
- Without reforms in Education, health Care and Public Administration, Romania doesn't have a chance for a positive evolution. We must stimulate the birth rate growth. Romania lost 1.5 million people;
- The level of bureaucracy, the huge level of expenses demanded by the bureaucratic system is not justified.
- I see that the unions prepare to go on strike. As I said in the case of the teachers - reforms before the money. Without reform, it will not be possible to see wages growing in the public administration. Since the '90's, we had several raises without reforms, but we can't afford it anymore.
- Romania has 4.5 million retired people and 1.5 million public servants. How much can be burdened the 2 million people producing something?
- I appeal to the unions to postpone their protests until December, after the elections. The next Government will be willing to discuss about reforms and money;
- The strikes may affect the electoral process.
About European funds:
- Other priorities refer to the infrastructure development. The budgetary contribution is here at a minimum. We have the EU funds. We only need to get the EU-finance projects started;
- Agriculture and environment are also among the priorities;
- 2008 is almost at an end and we haven't won a cent out of the 5.5 billion Euros the European Union offers for infrastructure development. The development resource is ensured, we only need to access it. We need to put an end to avoiding EU funds "because those funds impose rules". Everyone still prefers money from the budget, because that money is for "clients";
- In case we fail to spend the money allocated by the EU before 2013, the money will be lost;
About the financial crisis:
- You may have noticed that the first meeting I had after the reunion in Brussels was with the Central Bank officials, to inform them on the commitments Romania made for this financial crisis. The main message was that banks can rely on the state in case they face difficulties, but this situation is out of the question for the moment;
- The second message was demanding a partnership between the state and the banking system, in order to diminish the crisis effects. This means refraining from speculations and maintaining the credits for the private sector, to ensure the development;
- The Romanian banking system doesn't have any problem. The banks will return to offering credits after the excitement are gone;
- In two or three weeks, the interest rates for credits will be reasonable again;
- Despite the apparent crisis, Romania has the financial resources to diminish the crisis effects;
- The evaluation made by Standard&Poor's, which decreased the country rating, is not credible. The evaluation does not speak about Romania's public debt, only about the private one. Romania has an extremely low public debt level - 11 billion Euros. The rest, up to 60 billions, is private debt of companies. Plus, the evaluation doesn't take into account the state reserves - 27 billion Euros and 100 tons of gold, the highest level since 1989;
- It is easy to drop the rating for Romania after failing to see what happens in the US. AAA banks crumbled, while Romania still refuses to enter the crisis;
- When a rating is put up for Romania, they shouldn't look at the entire region. Moody's was better informed on what happens in Romania;
- The main problem is not the teachers' wages, but the current account deficit, which will be 0.2 - 0.3% lower than in 2007;
About the teachers' wages:
- I ensure the professors that the 50% wage growth law will be applied as soon as a new government is elected;
- I promulgated the law for the new mothers' aid, which will be 85% of the income in the previous year.
About the prime minister:
- I don't think that the difference of opinions between me and the prime minister are so huge. It's just that our statements differ;
- If none of the parties obtains 50% at the elections, I will have to name the future prime minister. I hope we have better luck than in 2004;
About Nabucco and South Stream:
- Our priority is Nabucco. Those who believe they can force Bulgaria to accept the South Stream project pretending that they will move the pipeline through Romania couldn't be more wrong. The pipeline may cross Romania as well, but Nabucco remains our main project.