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UPDATE 1 - Romania's president sends 2019 budget bill back to parl

UPDATE 1 - Romania's president sends 2019 budget bill back to parl Romania's president Klaus Iohannis

BUCHAREST (Romania), March 6 (SeeNews) - Romania's president Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday he has decided to send 2019 budget bill to parliament after the country's top court rejected his objections related to the constitutionality of the budget.

"As for as state budget law is concerned, I will not comment on the Court's decision, but beyond the constitutional aspects, the budget remains based on false figures, on money that the government does not actually have, and it goes against all major objectives that Romanians share. In short, it is still the budget of national shame!," Iohannis said in a televised statement broadcast by local Digi24 station.

"If PSD [the ruling Social Democrat Party] is unable to govern for the citizens, then it should leave and let in others who can do it better. PSD is the only culprit for all these delays. In view of all this, I will resend budget law for 2019 to parliament for correction and improvement," Iohannis said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Romania's Constitutional Court judges rejected the president's claim of unconstitutionality of the budget.

However, the court accepted the president's objection to the capping of budget deficit at a sligthly lower level compared to 2018.

Last month, the lower chamber of parliament adopted an amendment lifting the deficit ceiling for 2019 to 2.76% of the gross domestic product from the earlier target of 2.55%. The amendment was submitted by opposition National Liberal Party (PNL) in order to increase child allowances this year from 84 lei ($20/17 euro) to 150 lei.

Iohannis refused to sign the 2019 budget bill into law and referred it to the constitutional court. "It is an unrealistic, overvalued, overdue budget," he said back then. The president also said some of the provisions of the budget bill were unconstitutional as "fundamental rights are being violated, the law on the fiscal council has been ignored, the principle of decentralization is being undermined."

The budget projects economic growth of 5.5% this year.

Romania closed 2018 with a consolidated budget deficit equivalent to 2.88% of the estimated GDP, the same as in the previous year and within the EU's 3.0% limit, according to finance ministry data.

(1 euro=4.7506 lei)

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