MPs seek supplementation of National Defence Ministry’s budget

The MPs sitting on the Defence Committees on Tuesday asked Minister of National Defence Mihai Stanisoara to support their move for keeping in place the National Export Control Agency (ANCEX) and the Agency for Offsetting Special Technique Procurements, and also voiced support for the supplementation of the budget of the National Defence Ministry (MApN), Liberal Senator Teodor Melescanu declared after the hearings.

„One of the key points concerns the chronic underfinancing of the defence, public order and national security system.

We therefore declared that at the next budget adjustments we will fully support the assignment of funding for the carrying out under good conditions of the armament procurement and ammunition dismantling programs and voiced regret that the proposal I made – during debates inside the committees – that the Budget Law be amended so that MApN be earmarked 2 pct, with the possibility to raise loans up to 2.38 pct, was enthusiastically turned down exactly by the colleagues who advocate today the need for such a measure,’ said chairman of the Senate Defence Committee.

According to Melescanu, during the hearing of Defence Minister Stanisoara by the joint Defence committees, the issue was also raised of information circulated in mass media about ammunition smuggled to Romania for being dismantling.

Melescanu specified that the head of the Defence General Intelligence Department (DGIA), Gen. Gheorghe Savu, who also attended hearings, does not have the authority to control the dismantling of ammunition that does not belong to the Ministry.

„Quite a number of issues were raised related to press information about the operations performed on Romanian soil and the Senators and deputies voiced concerns over how thousands of tons of dangerous ammunition might have moved across Romania and possibly used for purposes other than those they had been shipped here for.

MApN made it clear to us that, as far as they are concerned, they are competent only for the dismantling of ammunition belonging to the Ministry of Defense and not for that shipped by other companies that are subject to a private regime,” stressed Senator Melescanu.

He mentioned that the officials in charge of the Ministry of Administration and the Interior, including the Intelligence and Internal Protection Directorate General, as well as officials of the Ministry of Economy – which coordinates the ROMARM company and the Babeni-based plant active in the destruction of ammunition – also need to be heard.

„One obvious conclusion is that we will probably need to expand our hearings to the Ministry of Administration and the Interior (MAI), the Intelligence and Internal Protection Directorate General Directorate and the Ministry of Economy, which controls Romarm and other special production companies. On the other hand, certain elements are not under a control as tight as it should be,” commented Teodor Melescanu.

Referring to the safety of ammunition import or destruction, Melescanu said that the Senators and deputies sitting on the committees asked Minister Stanisoara to back inside the Government certain amendments for keeping the National Export Control Agency (ANCEX), currently under coordination of the Foreign Ministry, and the Agency for Offsetting Special Technique Procurements, which now reports to the Prime Minister, as independent entities.

Under the bill on the restructuring of governmental agencies – for which PM Emil Boc will assume responsibility in Parliament on Sept. 15, the two institutions should be restructured.

„The third issue was a call we addressed the Minister to support the law package the Government assumes responsibility for. We will make amendments, but they face a rather uncertain fate.

Let him support us in the attempt of preventing the dismantling of two agencies with particular impact on the defence activities – ANCEX, the company that controls imports and exports of special materials, and the Agency for Offsetting Special Technique Procurements.

I openly told the Minister that in our opinion, if these agencies are disbanded, we set the groundwork in place for their activities to be taken over by private companies that can cause us even greater trouble than that we had so far,’ said Teodor Melescanu.

Commenting on mass media information about President Traian Basescu’s brother being allegedly involved in deals with weapons, Melescanu said that the lawmakers did not directly question Minister Stanisoara, but added that the restructuring of the aforementioned agencies also has to do with Mircea Basescu’s business.

„No, there was no direct question, but when I referred to the need to keep the offset agency, my first thought was that any private company that will take over the activities of this entity will pocket the money, regardless how the owners are called, causing prejudice to the state in the first place.

This is the more so true as the fee charged by the agency is directed to the state budget,” said Teodor Melescanu.
The committees also approached information according to which a military unit would have sold functional helicopters as scrap metal for trifle prices.

Melescanu said that according to the responsibilities of MApN, „all operations the Ministry has been involved in had been subject to
control, inclusively by a DGIA representative, and all commentaries were actually relating to other operations, not those of MApN.’

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