The Romanian government, led by PM Viorica Dancila, passed an emergency order on Tuesday on the Administrative Code, an important piece of legislation that contains 17 laws and 600 articles and has been criticized by the opposition and the civil society with claims that it was designed specifically to serve the PSD’s interests in local administrative units.
The government claimed that passing the Administrative Code through an emergency order was necessary because of the need to “eliminate systemic dysfunction” and improve local regulatory methods.
Opposition parties USR, PNL and PMP say that in passing this OUG, the government disregarded the fact that the Constitutional Court had found the Parliament’s version of the Administrative Code to be unconstitutional, and that the code’s real purpose is to ensure that the government has the support of the county council leaders, who have a lot of power when it comes to getting people out to vote in elections and who can have major influence in the election of the next leader of the PSD, during the party’s June 29 Congress.
Controversial provisions of the code include:
- Special pensions for local elected officials, to be paid along with their regular pensions. The special pensions will be between RON 800 and 2,400. Local officials elected after 1992 will get a special pension calculated as follows: 0.4 percent of the gross monthly salary (almost double the net) multiplied by the number of months spent in office. The maximum cap for this calculation is 3 terms (12 years). According to Deputy Prime Minister Daniel Suciu, the annual impact on the national budget will be RON 150 million.
- Projects related to the administration of patrimony could now be passed with a simple majority (50 percent +1) instead of the two-third majority required until now – this provision seems to particularly favour Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea, whose municipal companies were found to have been established illegally by a Bucharest court due to the fact that they were passed with only a simple majority;
- Legal liability for administrative acts is transferred from mayors to public servants, which could mean that mayors would be able to put pressure on local public servants to sign potentially illegal documents but not be personally liable for the decisions;
- The president must name a minister within 10 days from receiving a proposal from the PM and can only reject one proposal – this measure comes after Klaus Iohannis repeatedly refused to appoint several ministers proposed by Viorica Dancila earlier this year.
- Individuals convicted of a crime who have been rehabilitated will now be able to be members of the government;
- The need for approval for public sector job contests from the National Agency of Public Servants (ANFP) is replaced with a simple notification of the ANFP and the requirement to publish the contest announcement on the ANFP website as well as the Official Gazette;
- Changes to other functions of the ANFP: no more need for local authorities to seek approval from the agency for changes to job roles or public function structures; ANFP no longer needs to approve local authorities’ organizational chart; ANFP’s court action against illegal acts no longer leads to the suspension of these acts’ enforcement.
President Klaus Iohannis also criticised the OUG: “After two years of trying to kneel justice for the sake of some corrupt people, the PSD now wants to destroy the administration for the sake of the local barons. It is extremely serious that an essential law such as the Administrative Code, which encompasses hundreds of regulations, now contained in several pieces of legislation, and which is essentially the legal basis of public administration in Romania, was adopted by the government through an emergency ordinance. The OUG is a tool explicitly provided for in the Constitution for extraordinary situations only, where regulation cannot be postponed,” reads a statement from the Presidency.