29 August 2010

Stick (EN)

We find ourselves in a blockage/blockade on the political front, very similar to the Maginot line, in a sense... Fragile but inflexible in their trenches, the political actors stick to their own views/ideas, and simply can't concede on any issue. If they accept responsibility for an error, they're afraid they'd have to go; if they continue with their own plan, regardless of how mistaken, they still manage to pin failures on their opponents' inflexibility. In the meanwhile, the frenzy of bad decisions rolls on, entangling the lowest level of optimism in the past 20 years, in spite of the economy not being the immediate cause.



Leaving the rule o'flaw aside, the current Cabinet's rushing decisions and flawed enforcement can be easily explained: The majority in Parliament is fragile, the public support is minuscule, the perception is that we're going down the drain, the President puts a lot of pressure on implementation of harsh reforms, the IMF loan and the EU monitoring mechanism breathe down our neck. Still, I don't see any reason for Mr. Boc and his ministers' proposing decisions, policies and regulations without economic impact studies, without regulatory impact assessments, without public consultations :(

1. These days, the minister of labor messed up with the organization of payments for new social contributions on non-labor contracts. Since everybody fills an annual income tax form, the fiscal administration already has information regarding all of these contracts, and employers could've paid these new contributions, wiring the money on behalf of their contractors. But Mr. Șeitan decided to stick with the unpopular, bureaucratic procedure of every free-lancer filling 3 separate forms every month, and lining up for direct, cash payments in 3 different places by the 25th of every month :(

2. Quite recently, the minister of justice decided to stick with the original (though unconstitutional) version of the ANI law, forcing (for the third time) through Parliament a Bill that doesn't fix any of the current problems faced by the Integrity Agency. Though various experts/consultants expressed their doubts, and alternative/complementary solutions were suggested to both the Ministry and Parliament, Mr. Predoiu stuck to his original perspective, and pushed the majority into adopting a text that will most likely fail, again, in front of the Constitutional Court :( [Similarly, the minister of interior intends to replace the current ID cards, with no reasonable explanation :( ]

3. By the same token, the opposition socialists got stuck with the idea that VAT (already increased from 19 to 24%) should be reduced for basic food products. While the idea is appealing from both a social and an economic perspective, I think it's obvious it couldn't have been implemented from an administrative point of view: On the one hand, the state apparatus has been recently "restructured," and (allegedly) more than 50,000 public employees laid off. On the other hand, even if fewer people might be able to do more work, different VAT quotas allow for more discretion, hence increased levels of corruption :( [The opposition liberals simply stuck to the idea of suspending the President, and seem to have no other project :( ]

4. Even the governor of the central bank stuck with his wishful thinki prognosis in terms of the inflation target, for more than 6 months. Finally, the inflation target got adjusted upwards of 7% for 2010, while even I could've predicted such a course of events. To wit, I don't need extensive economic studies to realize that increased inflation reflects into lower salaries (especially in the public sector, where a 25% cut for 2010 was already decided by law) and/or a more favorable exchange rate to the benefit of exports--both effects quite essential for doing away with the repercussions of the economic crisis.

5. Not in the least, the minister of tourism stood her ground with respect to giving Romania a new branding package, sticking to errors that failed the idea time and again :( While a lot of criticism revolved around the "leaf concept," for a change, I would've stuck with it: The oak-tree leaf has been the image of the Romanian rugby team since the early 80s, and 2 major sponsors (Stejar beer and CEC bank) could've joined the effort of portraying a rugged country with wild or pristine landscape and exciting, adrenaline-rushing roads, places and events... But, oh, the rush :(((

Two bulls stand on a hill top. The younger one notices a herd of cows down the valley, and, very excited, addresses the older:
--Hey, let's rush down hill and get ourselves a couple of them nice cows to f#ck!
--Why, my son, slow down a little bit... Let's just walk calmly, and f#ck them all!!!

I don't need to remind you of the Codes, the salary grid or the standard costs for public administration--similarly rushed projects of 2009 :( So, I suggest that our politicians stop the rush, and quit this stuck-up attitude! I can understand they don't see the carrot in opening political negotiations and consultations with civil society, but the stick of the upcoming 2012 elections may hit them so hard... Really, if they don't stop with the nonsense, as perception of corruption continues to increase, lots of Romanians will start barking "Stick it up your a$$!" Let's see what evaluation and potential Cabinet reshuffle has in store, on September 1st...

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