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martes, 23 de diciembre de 2008

Electoral promises - the aftermath

During electoral campaign, huge, irresponsible promises, were made. Now, it´s the new government task to try to make them true (or, as a local journalist-showman, Micea Badea, said the other night, to start the "yes but no" discourse).

Most of these promises were related with raising salaries to teachers, doctors, policemen... The raising of salaries for teachers beginning in October 2008 was approved by the Parliament in September. I wondered then:

1) How the hell a responsible Parliament could make a promise compromising a budget, the one of 2008, that has received approval in January, and, with no extra incomes, no extra money to allocate to that raising.
2) How the hell a responsible Government will be able to fit that salary raising in next budgetary period, 2009. No doubt that salaries in Romanian education are low... However, no doubt either that Ministry of Education budget can´t easily handle such a raise (forget absolute numbers, let´s talk abour relative weight of the promise: a 50% raise, let´s not forget that).

So I'm know leaving Romania for Christmas, and at last found data answering my two hell questions:

1) The raise from October was possible by transfering money already allocated for educational infrastructures (10% of the Ministry's total budget) to that raise. As a result: a) Ministry cannot pay some works already performed, but had not been invoiced before October. b) Ministry cannot begin pending works, school renovation, etc. An by the way, teachers have not received yet all the promised money (bureaucracy...)

2) Inflation has been quite high in the last semester of the year; the RON/EUR rate in September was 3,6, more or less, and by the end of the year we have almost trespassed the psycological barrier of 4 RON/EUR. So well, if the tendency continues, maybe it will be able to raise the salaries after all... With no effect on teachers welfare.

If you can´t have both, what's more important for education, good facilities or content teachers? Difficult decision... But there´s no need to promise anything if you´ll be having none. Think before talking. Make numbers before promising.

domingo, 21 de diciembre de 2008

Strada Verona, Bucharest (December 2008)

Walking through Strada Verona one more time, enjoying the graffities and stencils, as it's my habit, finding this time a poster on 30th November Parliamentary Elections.

So the country is a plunger-like piece of meat, so people didn't vote (30% participation in Bucharest, less that 40% in the whole country) but went out for the three-day weekend (Monday 1st December was a national holiday in Romania), as everyone knew would happen (was that dat selected on purpose or just without thinking?)

One weekend at the mountains = 3 days.

One expressed vote = 4 years.

Come to vote on 30th November!

(PD-L 2008 campaign poster)

Anyway, the participation wouldn't have been high in any case: no high-quality campaign (I would like to find a country with high-quality political campaign, though), no feeling of change, no confidence on the system...

And the results: the Parliament divided in thirds, and a government agreement between the conservatives (PD-L) and the socialdemocrats (PSD). Formally, an unnatural pact; and some people I know think likewise. Some others, however, think of it as a pact between two forms of past communist elites showing their real face...

Who was more communist, who stole the most last time in power., who made promises, who carried them out.. Dunno, myself, as I lack, in order to take sides, a serious knowledge of Romanian political trackrecord.

So I won't do light ideological comments on this elections. But, what about governability? From my point of view, Romania need a stable government with capacity to make decisions, important decisions to counteract economical crisis and to encourage absortion of European funds granted for 2007-2013 period through adequately planned and managed development programmes. With Presidential elections to be held in Autumn 2009, I don't think THIS government will be able to be THAT government; even in the event that its members and the parliamentary groups supporting them get on well enough and the opposition behaves in a constructive way, tha political show will surely be on again in six months...

However, I've been told that this is not the first time in post-1989 Romania that such a weak, unnatural pact has been in office, and it lasted... So, once again, I'm quite speechless with regards Romanian politics. Maybe I shouldn't be doing light comments of any type, after all.

sábado, 6 de diciembre de 2008

A month onwards: from St. Nicholas to the Three Wise Men

Had I been still a child, had I been a Romanian child, had I been a child living in Romania, yesterday (5th December) I would have gone to bed early. I would have cleaned my shoes, put them on the window and go to bed early, waiting for St. Nicholas (Sfantul Nicolae, Moş Nicolae) to bring me some sweets or a new pair of boots on 6th December, Saint Nicholas day.

St. Nicholas will be back on 24th December, in his worldwide tour, disguised as Santa Clause and with a red suit sponsored by Coca-Cola. Many children will go to bed earl, wondering the presents to come on Christmas Day. Not my case (has I been younger, of course): at my house, during my childhood, we still followed the Three Wise Men (Los Reyes Magos) tradition.

The Three Wise Men (Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar) come every 5th January from far away, from Middle East, from Arabia. Children, who have written a letter asking certain presents, go to see them when they arrive, in a big parade, throwing sweets and carrying presents for the children that have been good in their camels, the coal for those who have been naughty. Then, children come back home, leave water for the camels and Christmas seewts for the Three Wise Men, and hurry to bed: no matter if you have been good all year, if you see the Three Wise Men when they come to your house to leave the presents, you won't get any. Would I be still a child, I could get up early next 6th January, open my presents, have chocolate and "Roscón de Reyes" at breakfast, play all day and say good-bye to Christmas: I'd be back to school on 7th, maybe 8th January.

In this world where kids are too well informed, I wish you all to have around during Christmas some child who still live under the illusion of a magical Christmas: no matter if he or she sleeps badly on 5th December, on 24th December or in 5 January, but let him or her be nervous at least one day! And let us to smile with that.

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