March 6, 2019 / 1:15 PM / 7 months ago

Romanian president sends 2019 budget plan back to parliament

FILE PHOTO: Romania's President Klaus Werner Iohannis talks during a summit of eastern NATO countries in Kosice, Slovakia, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/David W Cerny

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday he would send a 2019 budget plan containing “false numbers” back to parliament for re-examination, after the Constitutional Court rejected a challenge he brought to the spending proposal.

The ruling Social Democrats approved a plan in mid-February that raises spending on public-sector wages and pensions while targeting a slightly smaller budget deficit of 2.8 percent of gross domestic product against 2.9 percent in 2018.

But critics have said the budget is based on an unrealistic assumption for economic growth of 5.5 percent, compared with a 3.8 percent forecast by the European Commission.

“The fact remains ... that the budget is built of false numbers and wrongly made,” Iohannis told reporters. “I will send the budget bill back to parliament so that it can be corrected and improved.”

Iohannis had challenged the bill at the top court, arguing it breached legislation, but the Court rejected his claim earlier on Wednesday.

The budget also relies on a number of new banking, energy and telecoms taxes introduced via emergency decree in late December without an impact assessment or public debate.

The decree, which has triggered wide criticism from employers, unions, the president, the central bank, Brussels and ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, will likely be amended this month, potentially changing tax revenue estimates.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie and Radu Marinas, nEditing by William Maclean

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