The Senate rejected on Wednesday the request of President Klaus Iohannis to reexamine the ordinance under which the former Government led by Victor Ponta established a tax on windfall gains obtained as a result of price deregulation in the natural gas sector. The head of state had requested the Parliament to eliminate the additional threshold, established by deputies upon adoption of the ordinance, as well as the unlimited duration of the new tax. Government Ordinance no. 7/2013 established a tax of 60% on windfall gains obtained from market deregulation, gains from which the economic operators carrying out gas extraction and trade activities deduct the related royalties and investments in the upstream segment.
According to the initial ordinance, the tax was applied for a definite period, until 31 December 2014. The Senate adopted the ordinance without changes, but in June this year the Chamber of Deputies eliminated from the ordinance the temporary application and introduced two thresholds of taxation, 60% and 80% respectively, changing the calculation formula in this regard. Receiving the law for the approval of the ordinance for promulgation, President Iohannis requested the Parliament in July to review the law, noticing several issues. Thus, the President complained about the fact that the deputies had established an additional threshold of taxation, and the application of the supplementary charge was made indefinitely. The head of state also showed, in the request, that the form adopted by the Chamber of Deputies operated substantive amendments, which, according to the Constitutional Court case law is against the principle of bicameralism.
The Senate rejected President's request, although the committee for budget, led by PSD Senator Eugen Teodorovici, supported the return to the initial form of the ordinance. The Government however supported the form sent for promulgation
The Committee for Budget, Finances, Banking Activity and Capital Market, led by PSD Senator Eugen Teodorovici, gave a favorable opinion to the request of President Iohannis, accepting the amendments of PNL Senator Florin Catu through which the ordinance returned to the initial form. In turn, the Economic Committee, which prepared the report on the request for reexamination and is led by liberal Daniel Zamfir, rejected the amendments of Florin Catu and proposed the rejection by the Senate of President's request. Senators in the Economic Committee show that successive legislative changes have occurred since 2013, and the term for the application of the tax has been extended until 31 December 2015, then 31 December 2016 and then until 31 December 2017. Moreover, this year, as of 1 April 2017, the calculation formula was changed, taking into account that the Government no longer establishes by decision the acquisition price of gas from domestic production for household customers and for thermal energy producers, for the amounts used in power plants intended for household consumption.
"The successive extension of the application deadlines, as a result of the practice, justifies the application of the law for an unlimited period of time, and the introduction of two tax thresholds contributes to a better collection of the necessary funds for the protection of the consumers", the senators from the economic committee said. In the plenary vote, the parliamentary majority also took into account the position of the Government, expressed by the President of the National Forecast Commission, Ion Ghizdeanu, who showed that the Executive also supported the form amended by deputies and sent for promulgation. After the vote in the Senate, the President's request will be sent to the Chamber of Deputies, where it has poor chances to receive a favorable opinion.