BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania’s president on Friday sent new legislation scrapping 102 small taxes - including radio and television license fees - back to parliament for reconsideration after its top court threw out his claim that the measure was unconstitutional.
The Social Democrats (PSD), who sponsored the legislation, said it would ease tax burdens and reduce red tape in the European Union’s second poorest country. President Klaus Iohannis and other opponents said it was enacted without an impact assessment or provisions for how it would be financed.
“I don’t think it’s good to give up the radio/TV tax without a thorough, sit-down discussion, calm talk. This is the reason I am sending this back to parliament,” Iohannis told reporters.
In Romania, a president has the power to return already passed legislation to parliament, but only once - if lawmakers then decide not to change anything, the head of state is then obliged to sign the measure into law.
A new legislature, in which the PSD and their junior ally ALDE will command an outright majority after winning the Dec. 11 general election, is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday.
Earlier on Friday, the Constitutional Court upheld the legislation, rejecting a November challenge by Iohannis, a former leader of the centre-right National Liberal Party, who argued the measure was incoherent and lacked predictability.
“This law is in line with the constitution. It’s not our duty to establish whether this or that tax is valid or not,” Court President Valer Dorneanu told reporters. He is expected to elaborate on reasons for the ruling in the coming weeks.
The law eliminates a slew of small taxes from Jan. 1, such as levies for the commerce registry, securing copies of fiscal records, issuing temporary passports, fishing and various sports, and car registration to help protect the environment.
It also does away with license fees for public television and radio, which are supposed to be independent from politics.
The PSD pledged higher wages and pensions during their campaign for the Dec. 11 election and together with ALDE have the right to name the next prime minister.
The law’s annual cost to the budget is now estimated at 1.6 billion lei ($370.01 million).
On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court ruled that double digit wage hikes for state workers in education and healthcare approved one month before the election were in line with the constitution.
($1 = 4.3242 lei)
Reporting by Radu Marinas; editing by Mark Heinrich