Press review (Jan 8)

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Romania's national dailies of Thursday give main coverage to the cut-off of Russian natural gas to Romania following the energy Russian-Ukrainian conflict, to the concern of Romanian authorities for overcoming this period of absence of imports of natural gas, the finalisation of the draft budget by the Government, the estimates on economy's development this year, the request submitted by Romanian nationals living in UK to British PM Gordon Brown of lifting the restrictions enforced to Romanian workers on the British market of labour force, the talks between trade unions and the Government's representatives on the economic crisis.
 
Romania did not receive starting Wednesday natural gas from import, as the supply of natural gas at Mediesul Aurit (Satu Mare county, northern Romania) was cut off. Under these circumstances, Minister of Economy Adriean Videanu declared emergency mode, daily Business Standard writes in the article headlined "Emergency mode in energy, but the situation better than neighbours".
 
According to the latest statements made by authorities, Romania may withstand without Russian natural gas for a period ranging between 60 and 80 days, having enough reserves stored and an additional domestic production.
Referring to the same topic, daily Romania libera reports that Romania's President Traian Basescu called on Wednesday the Russian Premier Vladimir Putin saying he was extremely concerned about complete cut-off of deliveries of Russian natural gas.
 
"Romania's reaction seems exaggerate, considering the reserves of natural gas will last maybe even more than the crisis itself. PM Emil Boc confirmed that Romania could go through the winter without the Russian natural gas, daily Romania libera reports.
The state budget will be ready by the end of January, daily Romania libera reports, citing finance minister Gheorghe Pogea.
 
The minister said that taken into account will be the maintenance of the country's attractiveness to investors. The number one priority will be the public investments in order to compensate economic slowdown. Next week, after the examination of the funds available from the budget, we will find out whether the wages in the education and health system will go up, whether the value of the point of pension will increase or the electoral pledges will be fulfilled.
 
"Economic growth of 3.5%, budget deficit of 1.7/2%, average annual inflation of 5.3%, exchange rate of 4 lei/one euro, exports of 4.7% and current account deficit of 10.5% are the Government's estimates for 2009, according to a release of the Ministry of Finance and to figures carried by the National Commission for Economic Projection, daily Business Standard reports.
 
"The Government's estimates on economy's unfolding this year are not optimistic at all. According to the aforementioned information, the Government forecasts heavy slowdown of the commercial balance on a volume of exports of 4.7%. Moreover, even this rise, which is much lower than in 2008, is considered by economists as being much too optimistic or even impossible to reach," reads the aforementioned daily.
 
An association of Romanian nationals living in UK addressed the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a petition in which they asked the lifting of the bans imposed to Romanians on the British market of labour force, Romanian dailies report, which cite the official web site of the British Prime Minister.
 
According to the current regulations, the British Government treats Romanians workers differently compared to the other EU citizens, reads the message which requests the Government to lift these discriminatory regulations as soon as possible and give Romanian workers the legal right to movement in the EU area. In the message answering the petition, the British official said that UK endorsed Romania's EU memberships and continues to support its integration.
 
Dailies Romania libera, Business Standard, Adevarul and Evenimentul Zilei said that trade unions, employers' associations and the Government's representatives tackled on Wednesday the way in which the economic crisis can be overcome and dialogue with social partners resumed.
 
Trade unions were promised that the short-term anti-crisis programme will be negotiated by authorities together with social partners and will be endorsed by the draft budget. Early next week, all the sides involved will meet in order to draw up the anti-crisis programme and complete the draft budget, as Dumitru Costin, president of the National Trade Union Bloc said.
 
Labour Minister Marian Sarbu said he wanted to resume social dialogue which has limped over the past four years and that the Economic and Social Council (CES) should have a bigger importance in decision-making. The authorities will conclude an agreement with social partners on the long run, which will entail measures for the economic and social stability on four years with a view to better coping with the crisis.
 
The inflation target for 2010 is appraised between 3.5-4.5%, daily Financiarul reports. The exchange rate of the euro currency exceeded 4.1 lei/one euro on the interbanking market. Defending the leu currency by maintaining the monetary policy interest rate reduces the risk of re-inflammation of inflation. However, analysts estimate an exchange rate of 4.2 lei/euro at the end of the first quarter of 2009.
 
For next year, the inflation target of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) might be established between 3.5 and 4.5%, reads the aforementioned daily stressing that the results of the latest meeting on monetary policy of the National Bank shows the fight against inflation is far from being over.
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