The four dunces in charge of Romania’s economic policy
As far as fiscal policy and the economy are concerned, the PSD relies on four individuals : Darius Vâlcov, Eugen Teodorovici, Ion Ghizdeanu (head of the Prognosis Commission) and Ionuţ Mişa, head of the tax collection agency (ANAF). All four apply the directives given by the lider maximo, Liviu Dragnea. But insofar as Dragnea and Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă have a limited understanding of economic phenomena, the four key figures end up playing a huge part in state policies. The problem is that all four of them have egregious educational gaps, poor experience and follow a completely distorted agenda.
One observation: each one of them almost totally lacks experience in the private sector. With the exception of Darius Vâlcov, director for a short period of a local firm in Slatina, all the others have worked exclusively in the employment of the state, at the heart of the bureaucracy.
On Sunday evening, I got definitive proof of Darius Vâlcov’s economic illiteracy. The prime minister’s economic adviser gave the impression of undergoing a mystical trance, blabbering minutes on end about a supposed global plot against Romania, about countries that want to undermine our achievements, and about an imaginary anti-Romanian plot concocted and deployed by the European Commission.
This is not Darius Vâlcov’s first feat of the kind. Every public outing of PSD’s „economic mastermind” resembles a Dan Puric confession, a Sputnik article, or a chapter in Paul Coruţ’s books (for younger readers, Coruţ was the main exponent of conspiracy literature in1990s Romania).
Vâlcov’s entourage says that he has long since far exceeded the limits of his abilities. His economic lacunae are more and more visible with every interview: he confuses figures, omits essential data, and generally shapes the truth to fit the ultra-nationalist ideology he has been promoting since becoming a NAD target.
A graduate of the Economic Academy and Law (latter degree completed at Spiru Haret private university), Vâlcov managed to seduce Liviu Dragnea with his seemingly sophisticated theories and a supposed knowledge of public administration allegedly acquired during his term as mayor of Slatina. In fact, everything he’s been doing for two years has been to stir up the economy the wrong way, surprise the private sector with last minute measures, and frighten the ministers who dare have different opinions. The man has become a tool for implementing the governance program. The eight-year prison sentence in the lower courts in a corruption case has fueled the obsession with persecution and anti-Western tactics.
His hate of the EU and the US partners, his admiration for authoritarian political regimes, and a lack of proper understanding of the economy make Darius Vâlcov a huge liability.
Eugen Orlando Teodorovici has also become a dead weight. Seen at the beginning of his term as a balancing factor between the government and foreign partners, Teodorovici began to press on the foot of economic nationalism.
Last week we heard his absurd proposal to limit Romanians’ right to work abroad. All his returns on the subject were unconvincing, the Finance Minister plunging into explanations and details that further worried people.
The same Teodorovici had an anti-democratic manifestation in October when he proposed waiving parliamentary immunity for political statements, arguing that there are senators and deputies who say things that are untrue and they should be held accountable for that. An extreme measure that would censor the freedom of expression in the opposition’s ranks. .
Ever since apprehending the possibility of becoming the future PSD prime minister, in the event of a hypothetical fall of the government, the eternal public sector employee, with no experience in the private sector, Eugen Teodorovici, has radicalized . The desire to please Liviu Dragnea, the PSD chief decision-maker, is increasingly evident in the Finance Minister’s behavior.
Ionuţ Mişa is responsible for collecting taxes for the budget. As ANAF president, he is now reaping the « fruits » of fiscal policies he promoted last year as Finance Minister. Known for his friendship with businessmen in the Constanţa area, Miša is considered a mediocre financier, lacking a deep understanding of the intimate mechanisms of the fiscal apparatus. He was the protagonist of one of the most embarrassing moments of recent years, when he swore on the heads of his children that salaries for public servants would not decrease after the unitary wage law would enter into force.
Misha has no capacity for designing public policies or reform strategies. On the contrary, he is considered to be a mere executor of the party’s orders geared at stopping the reform initiated by the World Bank.
The results can already be seen: budget income is below what has been planned, dragged down by the fact that political clientele has been hired at all levels of the fiscal apparatus, but also by the politicization of the tax inspection, especially outside Bucharest. For a while, Misa and Teodorovici waged a private war between themselves, but eventually both remained in office. At the end of the year we will see the result of his survival and the impact of his activity on the budget revenues.
The last on the list is Ion Ghizdeanu, eternal president of the National Prognosis Commission. Appointed in office since Adrian Năstase’s turn as prime minister, Ghizdeanu has been remarkable for his total subservience towards the political decision-makers on which his position depends.
An anecdote from the world of finance says Ghizdeanu gave a completely unexpected reply to a former minister, Gheorghe Pogea. Exasperated by the lack of firmness of the Prognosis Commission in talks with the IMF and the European Commission during the crisis, Pogea is alleged to have asked Ghizdeanu what the right prognosis for economic growth was. It is claimed the latter’s answer was « Whatever you want it it to be, Minister ».
As a reward for his obedience to Darius Vâlcov, he has received increased powers and privileges in the PSD government. The National Prognosis Commission will have a major role to play in public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects, and it even wants to acquire the right to expropriate.
Ghizdeanu’s expertise in PPPs is nil. However, his willingness to play in an economic scheme ordered from the party’s HQ is important.
The Romanian economy depends to a large extent on these four individuals. Beyond the remarkable performance of the private environment in recent years, an economy which is still consolidating such as the Romanian one can be relatively easily distorted by reckless and ideologically bent government policies. With these four riders at the helm, the future does not bode well for Romania’s economy.
Traducerea: Ruxandra Stoicescu
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