Press review (Jan 12)

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The Romanian daily papers on Monday carry reports on the Government's considering forging an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the natural gas crisis and Romania's situation at this moment, the Romanian retail trade having posted the highest growth in the European Union and a possible assent by the National Bank of Romania to boost mortgage lending.
 
"An agreement with the IMF cannot be avoided", headlines the Romania libera; it quotes analysts as saying Romania needs foreign funding this year in order to cover the current account deficit and to pay its due debts. Since access to the international financial market is difficult, the Government will have to consider forging an agreement with the international lender, the daily stresses.
 
"Romania's financing prospect is by no means rosy. The state must cut as much as possible from the budget. Then there should be no pension rise, no salary rise, and there should be tax hikes," economic analyst Ilie Serbanescu says. "Ultimately, we cannot manage without an IMF assistance worth at least 20 billion euros," he says, adding such assistance, however, will not be enough.
 
Romanian representative at the IMF Mihai Tanasescu argues "Romania needs an anchor for the stability of its economy", "which can be built by a combined international lending programme from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund."
 
The Business Standard adds the Government does not rule out the IMF help, but it is searching for other solutions too. "The Government should find a solution to finance the budget deficit, with such solution to be decided on by the Executive in the period ahead", Prime Minister Emil Boc said on Friday; he did not rule out the possibility of a loan from the IMF or the European Investment Bank.
 
"The emergency mode related to the natural gas crisis continues in Romania", the Business Standard says, and it explains that state-owned gas transport operator Transgaz Medias communicated on Sunday there are no reasons for concern with respect to the gas supply after Russia cut off deliveries; it also said it had received no announcement from Russian company Gazprom referring a possible return to a normal situation.
 
"The overall domestic consumption dropped in the last 24 hours. A new meeting on the crisis issue is scheduled on Monday. We further are able to cover the domestic demand from the gas stocks," Transgaz CEO Ioan Rusu told the Business Standard.
Romania recorded an annual rise in sales at 6.8 percent in November 2008, the highest pace in the European Union, according to the European Office of Statistics Eurostat; the figures are quoted by the Financiarul in an item headlined "We are ranked first in the EU by the trade rise".
 
In the EU 27, the sales dropped by 0.2 percent in November compared to November 2007, while in the euro zone the sales were by 1.5 percent smaller.
Analysts expect the recession to go even deeper in the first three months of this year. The Romanian retailers are only slightly hurt by the national leu currency's depreciation, the Financiarul reports.
 
The National Bank of Romania might decide in its meeting on Thursday to raise the maximal indebtedness level to the mortgage lending to the population to 60-65 percent of the incomes, if the borrowers put forward such collaterals as house mortgage or city land, the Business Standard quotes central bank sources as saying. This is the first signal the central bank issues as to relaxed crediting to the population, after the restrictive norms enforced in October and the financial crisis dramatically cut the money the Romanians might borrow.
 
The Dacia carmaker employees demand that the environmental tax be maintained, the Business Standard announces; it reports some 5,000 Dacia-Renault plant staff will stage a protest rally on Tuesday against a possible suspension or cut of the environmental tax, that would take a toll on the carmaker, leading to redundancies.
The former Romanian Government that ended its term in December decided to raise the tax on used cars threefold from Dec. 15, in a move they said was meant to counter the massive import of used cars and to protect the environment.
 
The Dacia trade union explained that the decision might not only affect the carmaker's staff, but it might also deprive of jobs roughly 100,000 employees of the companies making Dacia sub-assemblies.
Tyre-maker Pirelli will open a factory in the southern Gorj county in March, the Financiarul announces. Gorj County Council chairman Ion Calinoiu met SC Pirrelli&C. Ambiente Eco Technology director Paolo Benea to tackle common issues related to the official opening of the factory within the Bumbesti-Jiu Industrial Park.
Benea said the work schedule will be met and the Pirelli factory will open at end-March in Gorj county.
 
Experts announce there will be 1,300 job offers in the fast-food sector this year, the Romania libera reports.
Almost all Romanian big cities have available jobs in fast-food restaurants, with the highest job offer being in Bucharest, Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Constanta, Sibiu and Piatra Neamt.
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