The Balkan Insight reports that a Romanian cabinet move to cut the spending of the country’s presidential administration and intelligence service and fund a huge Orthodox cathedral has boosted political tensions in Bucharest.
Described as a “positive overhaul” by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, the move sparked concerns that the ruling party is moving funding from state institutions that have expressed criticism of the government towards dependent institutions and local administrations that are subordinate to the cabinet.
Among the institutions that lost most of their funding was the Ministry of Research, whose funding was cut by approximately 26 million euros.
The budget of the Romanian Intelligence Service, SRI was cut by approximately 24 million euros. The SRI was one of the institutions the ruling Social Democrats accused of cooperating closely with anti-corruption prosecutors in producing evidence in graft cases involving ministers, MPs and mayors.
The government also cut 2.3 million euros from the funding of the presidential administration; President Klaus Iohannis has been the most vocal critic of the ruling party’s policy of relaxing the fight against corruption.
The biggest amount went to the Romanian Orthodox Church, which got 15 million euros more in order to finish the enormous People’s Salvation Cathedral, the biggest Orthodox church in Eastern Europe, due to be inaugurated in November just before Romania’s National Day.
The Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday that it was compelled to reduce budgets for some institutions in order to ensure funding for others.
The presidency reacted sharply on Tuesday, accusing the cabinet and the ruling party of using the state budget as a political tool to punish and silence criticism.
Presidency spokesperson Madalina Dobrovolschi said that the presidential administration has sent the Ministry of Finance a request to reconsider the cuts.