Minister Elena Udrea`s speech at the conference "Romania after 20 years: changes and social problems. Quality of life, which way?"
Sustainable development - increasing quality of life. Public investment in the rural environment
Ladies and gentlemen of the Academy,
Ladies and gentlemen professors,
I have come before you overwhelmed with emotion and responsibility to speak to you about one of the most important projects that I have ever assumed, a project aimed at the rural space and which can be subsumed to today`s conference theme.
Before telling you about my plans, I want to explain the feelings that dominate me, reminding you that the Romanian Academy - the host of this conference, is the forum under whose dome some of the defining speeches for the Romanian village were delivered. I would recall Lucian Blaga`s reception speech, "Eulogy to the Romanian village”, held at the Romanian Academy on 5 June 1937, and "Praise to the Romanian peasant", Liviu Rebreanu`s speech of 29 May 1939, both showing that the Romanian peasant was always a creator of values and history.
"How does the Romanian village look today? What chance does this old, fatally conservative, stubborn world have in the era of globalisation? Can peasant children still go to school and distinguish themselves, through their at times formidable intelligence and ambition, in intellectual professions?". These are some of the questions asked recently, again under the dome of the Romanian Academy, by the distinguished academician Eugen Simion, questions to which we, those present here, strive to find answers and revolutionary solutions.
Without losing sight of the cultural significance of these speeches for a moment, I must to go back to the pragmatic space of the governmental solutions. It is said that good governance means harmony between state and nation. Yet this harmony exists when the state is able to meet citizens` expectations, which are related to what sociologically is called raising life quality.
The government I am part of pays particular attention to the Romanian village, a space where some 45% of the country`s population lives. The rural areas of Romania are of a great importance economically, socially and in terms of their size, diversity, and the natural and human resources they have. The sustainable development of the rural space is inextricably linked to the improvement of existing rural infrastructure and basic services. In our view, in the future, the rural areas must be able to compete effectively in attracting investment, while also ensuring adequate living conditions and social services necessary to the community.
As minister of regional development and tourism, I have important responsibilities regarding the development of government programmes of investment in the infrastructure of the rural space. These programs are mainly aimed at supplying water to villages through a centralised system, at building sewerage and water purification systems, at wastewater treatment, at creating or modernising, as appropriate, waste platforms, at improving access roads by paving, rehabilitation, asphalting, construction, expansion or upgrading of bridges, footbridges or pedestrian bridges and at developing sports facilities.
All these measures are aimed both at preserving the rural space and traditions, and at developing infrastructure, to improve living conditions in the rural space.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In addition to the programmes I have listed, in which the State invests considerable amounts, which I will continue to implement, I come before you today with a new programme aimed at improving life quality in the rural areas.
It is a programme of building housing for the specialists who operate in the country. Each commune will have, and this is the commitment of myself and of the government I am part of, a residential complex made up of 10 houses for teachers, doctors, priests, engineers, specialists who choose to exercise their professions in rural areas. The houses will have areas of approximately 100 square meters and the architecture compatible with the specificity of the areas where they will be located. We estimated there would be approximately 25,000 such houses whose main purpose is to stimulate young specialists to head for the village that needs them so much.
The ministry I am heading will thus strengthen its position as partner of the rural communities, will increase its contribution to the preservation and evolution of the socio-cultural values from this reference space of national identity. It is an effort whose goal is a better life for village inhabitants, services in villages that will be comparable to those in the cities, equal opportunities between the inhabitants of urban areas and rural areas.
Any analysis of the government`s performance should take into account several aspects. It should start from identifying issues of public interest, follow the steps taken by Government in the related areas and assess their concrete results. Based on analyses made by you, those present here, it results that one of the issues of general interest in Romania, in close connection with the quality of life is the housing problem. I have the chance, through the National Housing Agency, an agency subordinated to the ministry I am heading, to help improve this problem.
Besides building the residential ensembles for specialists in the rural area, I am planning to carry out through the National Housing Agency, a programme of building housing for resident doctors, together with the Ministry of Health, and a programme of building housing for the military, together with the Ministry of Defence.
I would also like to tell you that we have elaborated a proposal to amend the ANL Law, through which we would ease access of the young renters in the ANL housing units to buy them. This normative act will be submitted to discussion at the very next government meeting.
Coming back to the programme of building residential ensembles for the specialists in the rural space, I have considered I have the moral obligation to speak publicly about this project within this framework, as a sign of respect for our ancestors who were concerned about the values, history and future of the Romanian village, as well as for you, specialists with a reputation before which I bow, without whom we would have no basis for the not quite easy sometimes political decisions that we must make.