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Roman Presents His New Government, Pledges Market Reforms

June 28, 1990

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Prime Minister Petre Roman presented his new government to Parliament today and urged radical economic reform, warning that superficial changes would only deepen the economic crisis.

The 23-member government, composed largely of technocrats and experts, includes few members of the interim cabinet that governed Romania after Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was ousted in the December revolution.

That government had been criticized for a lackluster pace of reform and, in the case of some ministers, allegedly close ties to the Ceausescu leadership.

Roman, who also headed the interim government, was entrusted last week by President Ion Iliescu with forming the new cabinet.

Iliescu’s National Salvation Front, which has dominated government since the revolution, won a majority in the May 20 elections.

″The present state of the economy can only be overcome by radical reform, carried out in quick steps,″ Roman told a joint session of both houses of Parliament. ″Plastic surgery and superficial adjustments of the old structures cannot but deepen our crisis.″

He said an initial package of reform laws would be presented to Parliament within six months.

Roman pledged to carry through ″the historic transition from a supercentralized economy to a market economy,″ noting that the state ″must abandon to the greatest possible extent its role as proprietor and manager.″

He also emphasized the need to reduce the vast public sector.

The Senate and House of Deputies, the two houses of Parliament, will meet separately to debate the new government’s proposed composition and platform. They were expected to give their approval.

But opposition leaders - who criticized Roman’s interim government for limiting private enterprises to a maximum of 20 employees - remained skeptical that his current pledge is sincere.

″So far we’ve heard promises,″ said Radu Campeanu, leader of the National Liberal Party, the largest opposition group. ″I hope they come true, but I don’t know. I don’t know.″

Andre Severin, appointed minister in charge of Reform and Relations with the Parliament, dismissed the opposition’s criticism.

″Everyone can see that the elections, won by the National Salvation Front, actually generated a liberal program of reform,″ he said.

Culture Minister Andre Plesu, who also held the post in the interim government, said: ″The feeling is good because everything is new. ... I have trust in this team.″

Most of the ministers in the new government are in their forties and many hold doctorates in fields related to their ministries.

In presenting his ministers, Roman read a short biography of each and in most cases added: ″He was not a high-ranking member of the former hierarchy.″

At his inauguration last week, Iliescu pledged to remove ″disgraced, corrupt and incompetent persons″ in an apparent bow to an opposition concern that people compromised by serving under Ceausescu continued in responsible positions.

But Social-Democrat legislator Corneliu Nica admonished all those ministers ″whose past activites are disputable ... (to) refuse the mandate.″ He declined to say which ministers he was referring to.

The foreign minister in the interim government, Segiu Celac, who in the 1970s had been Ceausescu’s personal translator, was replaced with Adrian Nastase, a former aide to Iliescu and a spokesman for the National Salvation Front. In addition to Plesu, the only former ministers to be reappointed were Severin and Defense Minister Victor Stanculescu.

Duru Viorel Ursu retained the post of interior minister he assumed after his predecessor, Mihai Chitac, was ousted in the wake of violence that rocked the capital earlier this month.