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Prime Minister Florin Citu: PNRR, just one source of funding gov't projects; deficit to narrow below 3pct in 2024

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Florin Cîțu

Prime Minister Florin Citu said on Thursday evening that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) is just one source of funding for the projects that the Romanian government has undertaken, agerpres reports.

He was asked, on Digi 24, about the government as 13 billion euros under PNRR are grants and 16 billion euros are loans.

"That's not a problem. First of all, it's about how you present or envisage the economy developing moving forward. Things are simple for me: I'm an economist and maybe that's why I understand things better. Romania needs investment. Romania will make investment moving forward. The PNRR is just one source of funding for the projects we have undertaken in the government agenda, and I think there is confusion for many who are non-specialists: we already borrow for investment anyway. Now that I have the chance to borrow from the European Union, from the European Commission, which lends cheaper, I will take this chance, or else, of course I will go to the market. (...) We have three sources of funding for investment projects: the national budget - because we have a deficit, that means that we borrow, you know very well, we go out to international markets - PNRR, and European funds," said Citu.

He added that Romania will have at its disposal 29.2 billion euros under PNRR and 46 billion euros in European funds, plus the national budget.

The prime minister said the government deficit will narrow to less than 3% in 2024.

"So there is no problem. It's just about convincing the European Commission that we will stick to the tax and budget strategy that we committed to at the beginning of the year, that is we will narrow the government deficit to below 3% in 2024. My role is that of convincing, and I have managed to convince the European Commission that we will fund these projects no matter how, that I stick to the promised reforms and we will get the deficit in 2024 below 3%. The difference between Romania and other countries is that Romania is facing excessive deficit, which means that we have to show how we will narrow this deficit moving forward, but from next year you should know that most countries will have this prerequisite, because across Europe the deficit is greater than 3%. I'd say this is blessing in disguise, because I wanted to make reforms anyway, we want to make reforms (...) but there is this prerequisite; we went to the European Commission with a very ambitious reform plan undertaken in the government agenda, and there are important things there," he said.

Citu emphasised that the reform of state-owned companies is one of the most important.

"The PNRR has all kinds of milestones that we have to touch in order to get money under PNRR," he said.

Citu added that state pension reform is also important.

"Pension reform: we need to envisage how to make it sustainable in the long run. In 15 years, a much larger number of people will retire, you know very well, probably from the 1969s-1970s.' 72-'73, while fewer people enter the workforce. We have to solve this problem somehow. We have seen reforms of the pension system in several countries: it takes time, not one year, but five, six, seven, eight years. We are committed to doing it by 2026," the prime minister said.

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