Farmers threaten protests this weekPublish date: 12-01-2010
Some 70 per cent of the farms will be closed and over 10,000 employees will be sacked if the Agriculture Ministry's budget won't grow from RON 9.87 bln to RON 36 bln, Stefan Niculae, the president of the Agrostar Federation, stated last Friday for Mediafax. 'If this budget of 1.4 per cent of GDP will remain so, 70 per cent of the farms will be closed and over 10,000 employees will be sacked,' Niculae stated following his meeting with Agriculture Minister Mihail Dumitru.
He asked the Agriculture Ministry's budget to be hiked from 1.4 per cent of GDP to 4 per cent of GDP, namely from RON 9.87 bln to RON 36 bln. At the same time the Agrostar representative complained of the lack of a draft law that would replace the subsidies that expired at the start of this year with other forms of state aid.
The head of Agrostar added that because of the dissatisfactions with the earmarked budget the farmers will hit the streets starting this week. 'On Tuesday we will establish a timetable for protests. We are sorry that the year starts off with protests against the small budget but we no longer want to be ridiculed by the politicians,' Niculae added.
He also reminded of the black market in this sector, claiming that the tax dodging that occurs in the agricultural sector, mainly because of the importation of foodstuffs, stands at EUR 1.5 bln. Stefan Niculae claims that the tax dodging is done 'hand in hand' with the authorities that do not carefully check the aforementioned imports. The representative of Agrostar is also displeased with the relationship between farmers and banks, the latter being sceptical when it comes to offering loans to this sector. He added that 'the dumbest thing' was the transfer of agricultural consultancy services to local authorities. Niculae added that Agrostar will devise its own project on setting up agricultural chambers.
Agriculture Minister Mihail Dumitru stated during a press conference last Friday, before his meeting with the Agrostar representatives, that it is impossible to obtain a derogation from the European Commission in order to prolong by at least a year the subsidies, as the representatives of the Agrostar trade union federation had previously asked. 'That is impossible. We will focus on replacing the forms of subsidies. We will have to debate with the social partners other development priorities that we would then negotiate with the European Commission,' Dumitru said. The subsidies no longer offered this year as well as the budget earmarked for the sector in 2010 and the investments carried out through the National Rural Development Program (PNDR) were among the talking points.
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