Natalia Gavrilița: Voluntary amalgamation should take place before elections

As the Government prepares to start implementing the administrative reform this year, Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița says that it would be best if its first phase – the so-called voluntary amalgamation of first-level entities – took place before the general local election next fall.

As described by the prime minister, voluntary amalgamation implies the possibility for villages and communes to unite together in larger entities. For this purpose, 250 million lei was allocated in the 2023 state budget. The money will be given to merging public administrations for salary incentives or infrastructure development projects, for example. Also, the villages and communes undergoing amalgamation will be given priority in external assistance programs.

“Our goal is to ensure that we have local administrations capable enough to attract and implement projects from European funds, this being a problem faced by all countries that have gone through European integration. We have to move forward based on social consensus, and this is why we came up with the concept of voluntary amalgamation. Villages and communes may decide to amalgamate into larger entities because larger entities have more income and can attract better specialists. We will offer incentives, including salary incentives, projects for the reconstruction of roads, to stimulate the administrative growth of communities”, said Natalia Gavrilița in an interview with NordNews.

The second phase of the reform would be a redistribution of subject-matter jurisdiction from the district authorities to the first-level ones. To give an example, Natalia Gavrilița says that in the case of government subsidies, it’s best if local administrations enjoy a simplified procedure that excludes the district councils.

“We have national programs where most of the funding comes from the central budget, and maybe we should offer more powers at the first level. Because we often see second-level abuse. Redistributing jurisdiction may take a while. In the case of hospitals, the matter was quick because there was a limited number of institutions. At the same time, for a more complex system like education, this process could take longer. One is the approval of legislation, but another is the implementation at the local level. But at the first stage we will have this voluntary amalgamation, and this process will not last only one year. It is best if this amalgamation takes place before the local elections so that there is coordination, but in the end, this is something to be decided at the local level”, said the prime minister.

Electoral officials earlier suggested that the general local election could take place on the last Sunday of October or the first of November.

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