Press review (Sept 18)

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The main topics grabbing front-page headlines in Romania's national dailies of Thursday regard the world financial crisis and its effects on Romania as seen by Romanian state officials; the balance sheet of the Tariceanu cabinet; the pension rises as from October 1; the funerals of stage and film actor Stefan Iordache.
 
Romania libera asks how Romania will be affected by the world financial crisis, pointing to the volatility of the exchange rates of the local currency, external funding getting more expensive and quoted shares getting cheaper, for an answer.
 
The paper says the world financial crisis will probably last to the next summer, during which time Romania will be indirectly affected by external funding getting more expensive, vagrant moves of the local currency and the shares quoted on the stock exchange getting cheaper. The already visible external disequilibria are only makeing things worse, but the high interest rate the banks pay to the National Bank of Romania (BNR) to raise money could dampen the negative effects, the paper argues. The paper quotes analysts as telling it in interviews that Romania and other emerging Central and Eastern European countries could draw direct foreign investment because foreign investors will recalibrate their budgets and costs.
 
The paper also mentions that rating agencies are divided on Romania's chances of avoiding a major economic crisis. It quotes a Fitch analyst as saying the main problem of Romania is a large current-account deficit, which widening cannot be sustained forever.
 
Adevarul notes that the world financial crisis is serenely followed from Bucharest, saying that Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu gives assurances that the Romanian economy will clearly not be affected, and that there is even room for improvements. The paper argues the crisis might even have positive effects, because many real estate assets in the US will get less expensive and there might be some Romanians interested in buying them.
 
The paper also remarks that there is a generalised relaxed atmosphere in Bucharest, with officials of the Romanian Finance Ministry headed by Minister Varujan Vosganian having announced that next month Romania might start borrowing from world markets. The paper adds that this announcement reveals a desperate need for cash, which investors will tax accordingly by asking higher risk premiums from Romania.
 
Evenimentul zilei remarks that on Wednesday Prime Minister Tariceanu presented a stocktaking report on the achievements of his Cabinet in four years, mentioning to the point rising pensions and wages, new jobs and a rise in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The paper says this means the Government has achieved 95 percent of the objectives pledged under its programme. Tariceanu also presented the main failures of his premiership, mentioning the wide infrastructure projects that have got stuck at a design stage.
 
'We managed for the first time after the 1989 Revolution to bring pensions up to decent levels, even doubling them, and the Government will be performing a further rise as from October 1, so as to bring the reference point for the computation of pensions to the level we want. We have also increased the minimum gross wages and the average gross wages and we also increased the farmers' pensions,' Tariceanu said in summarising his achievements.
 
Ziarul financiar remarks that Tariceanu has awarded himself a big marks for economics, noting that Tariceanu on Wednesday explained that the government avoided to promise the moon and the stars, but only what the economic realities would allow.
 
The paper quotes Tariceanu as saying in relation to the economic developments in the country that Romania could reach a 9-percent economic growth in 2008, as the GDP advancement in the first half of the year stood at 8.8 percent, setting a new growth record after 1989.
 
'Romania's economy stands a chance of attaining a 9-percent economic growth; according to the estimates of the National Commission for Economic Projections, Romania is the country with the highest GDP growth rate in Europe. Because of the economic growth, the Government aggregate receipts for 2008 are close to the 2003 GDP figures,' said Tariceanu.
The paper explains that economic growth was one of the three main objectives the Tariceanu Government pledged to achieve, besides prosperity and European integration.
 
Business Standard notes that pensions will be rising from October 1, as Prime Minister Tariceanu and official of the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) agreed on Tuesday evening. Tariceanu accepted the deadline suggested by PSD for the pension increase, while PSD dropped its motion of censure against the Tariceanu Cabinet.
 
Ziarul financiar remarks that the increase in the reference point for the computation of state pensions from October 1 entails a transfer to the Budget of RON 1,370 million (some 380 million euros), an amount that was included in the Budget all the way back in 2007, when the Budget was approved.
 
The paper quotes Labour Minister Paul Pacuraru as saying the increase starting November 1, as initially planned by the Government, would have been performed without the transfer, because the social security fund would have permitted. Pacuraru also said the pension increase three months ahead of the initial schedule will be made under a political decision that will take into account the existing economic results, because there is the required financial backing secured by the transfer.
 
Adevarul notes that house prices in Bucharest are falling back to their 2006 levels, mentioning that the worst affected are flats in old blocks in the Military, Pantelimon and Rahova neighbourhoods, and quoting to the point real estate analysts as saying in the future prices for homes in these areas will not exceed 1,500 euros per square metre.
 
Evenimentul zilei reports on the burial with military honours of Romanian stage and film actor Stefan Iordache on Wednesday at the burial place near the Gruiu Church, southern Romania. The burial service was performed by five priests. Hundreds of people, from well-known public figures to common people, walked Iordache on his last journey; the path leading from the church gate to the tomb was covered in flowers. Calafat, the hometown of Iordache, was left in mourning, with hundreds of the locals lighting candles to the memory of the actor, the paper relates.
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