Press review (Jan 5)

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The Romanian daily papers on Monday carry reports on a measure plan to fight the economic and financial crisis put forward by the Government, the appointment of the second tier (secretaries and under-secretaries of state) of the ministries by the ruling Social Democrats and Democratic Liberals, the situation of the Romanians unable to leave Gaza, a decision of the National Bank of Romania on the leu key rate and the analysts' estimations of the developments to be seen by the Bucharest Stock Exchange this year.
 
The Government next week will propose its own plan of anti-crisis measures independently from the one put forward by the previous executive, with the draft budget law to be presented to Parliament no later than on Jan. 20, the Business Standard announces. The two ruling partners – Social Democrat Party (PSD) and Democrat Liberal Party (PD-L) – will also enact their pre-election welfare promises depending on the money available from the state budget; the only certain thing is that the lowest salary will be raised to 600 lei from Jan. 1 (1 euro = 3.9 lei).
 
Nearly 1,000 Romanians are unable to leave their Gaza homes, the Romania libera and Cotidianul report. According to the Romanian Foreign Ministry, as many as 55 Romanian nationals had requested consular assistance by Sunday at noon; they include 14 women, five men and 36 children.
Such requests were filed rather late, namely since Dec. 31, with the number of the requests having doubled on Jan. 2. The Foreign Ministry gave assurance that moves are being made at the Israeli and Egyptian authorities to open the two Gaza checkpoints.
 
The National Bank of Romania (BNR) will make a decision on Tuesday with respect to the leu key rate, but also to a possible fresh cut of the national currency minimal compulsory reserves at its first meeting on money policy issues held this year, the Ziarul financiar announces in an item headlined "The BNR decides tomorrow whether it is going or not to help bankers".
Analysts expect the central bank to again choose to keep the key rate at 10.25% per annum as it did in October, amid the uncertainty surrounding the development of the financial climate.
 
The PSD and PD-L are looking for persons to hold positions in the second tier of the ministries, the Ziarul financiar and Business Standard announce. The leadership of the Social Democrats and Democratic Liberals will have separate meetings later this week in order to decide on the persons to be appointed in the second tier of the ministries (secretaries and under-secretaries of state) and also make nominations to chiefs of more than 250 governmental agencies. The national companies will have new heads too.
 
The Romania libera stresses Romania does not risk to see the Russian gas supply cut after Moscow turned the tap off on Ukraine, which was crossed by 80% of the gas exported to Europe. Although Romania imports one third of the natural gas demand, the Romanian pipelines for the moment continue to be supplied with natural gas, but the quantity has been cut by 30% and the gas pressure at the end user is lower, chairman of Romanian natural gas carrier Transgaz, Ioan Rusu said.
 
"The system is well loaded. The population will not be affected by any stop of the gas supply. We have no problems at this moment and the 30% cut of the quantity of gas imported from Russia may be the result of the row between Gazprom and Ukraine and also of the low temperatures that have the same effect. The lower gas pressure will not pose any problems to the population's supply, it didn't put any problems even when there was the lowest average temperature across Romania at 12 degrees Celsius below zero Saturday night", Transgaz head stressed.
 
"The brokers see possible fresh lows at the Stock Exchange in the first half-year", headlines the Ziarul financiar; it reports the capital market brokers are reserved when it comes to a significant change in the Stock Exchange's evolution this year, with most of them arguing the market might recover after mid-year most likely. BT Securities chief analyst Dan Rusu says 2009 will see the recession spreading from the financial sector deeper into all the other sectors of the economy.
 
The Ziarul financiar, in its first issue this year, makes a selection of the most important trends in the Romanian economics and politics. It puts 50 fundamental questions and gives as many possible answers to the way the economy and politics will develop this year. How large will the budget deficit be? When will the National Bank begin to cut the key rate?
 
Will the external deficit adjust at below 10%? Will salaries go up in 2009? Will inflation continue to be a problem? Will President Traian Basescu win a second term? How long and how will the Government resist? Will there be any economic growth? – these are some of the questions the daily tries to answer to.
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