Press review (Jan 20)

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The ceremony of inauguration of US president Barack Obama, the nomination of Liviu Dragnea by the Executive Board of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), for the position of Interior minister, the prognostication of the European Commission (EC) regarding the Romanian economy, the meeting of the Supreme Council for Romania's Defence (CSAT), the finalization of the state budget by the leaders of the coalition of the PSD-the Liberal-Democratic Party (PD-L), these are the main topics which most Romanian dailies write about on Tuesday.
 
"Barack Obama becomes today the 44th US president, the inauguration ceremony of the first Afro-American president draws in Washington a record number of two million visitors, who want to attend this historic moment," writes Romania Libera, under the headline "Historic change at the White House."
 
The topic is approached by most Romanian dailies, which give large space to this event. "Obama takes his seat", (Ziua), "Obama urges to responsibility, for tempering the planetary euphoria" (Gandul), "The road to the White House," (Evenimentul Zilei), these are only some of the headlines.
 
In an article titled "Romania, on Obama's agenda: between inertia and indifference," Romania Libera writes that under the administration of Barack Obama, the strategic relationship between the United States will work, in the happiest case, like in the time of Bush. While some analysts are saying that the relationship with Romania will be the last concern of Obama.
 
Liviu Dragnea was nominated unanimously by the members of the Executive Board of PSD for the position of minister of the Interior, announces Romania Libera and Cotidianul. He replaces Gabriel Oprea, forced by the PSD leaders to resign.
Liviu Dragnea is the head of the Council of the County of Teleorman, southern Romania, vice-president of PSD and coordinator of the Social-Democratic ministers of the Boc government.
 
Daily Cotidianul writes that Liviu Dragnea was appointed by PSD as minister of the Interior, after the party's head, Mircea Geoana, has consulted president Traian Basescu, who is to give his approval.
 
The Supreme Council for Romania's Defence (CSAT), led by Romanian president Barack Obama, meets, on Tuesday, at the Cotroceni presidential Palace, on the agenda of the meeting there is the conclusion of a bilateral agreement between the Government of Romania and the Government of Iraq, on the status of the forces and means of the Romanian Army in Iraq, writes daily Ziarul Financiar, under the headline "Geoana attends CSAT, along with Basescu". Writing about the same topic, daily Cotidianul headlines "The first CSAT meeting, in the new formula."
 
The CSAT meeting will be attended, for the first time, by Senate President Mircea Geoana, after the Government endorsed an ordinance allowing the speaker of the Senate to participate in the works of the Supreme Council for Romania's Defence, as vice-president.
 
"The European Commission (EC) published some of the most pessimistic forecasts for the Romanian economy," write Financiarul and Business Standard. According to a prognosis of the European Commission, published on Monday, Romania could register this year a budget deficit of 7.5% of GDP.
 
"The pace of growth of GDP was drastically revised, and the expectations concerning the budget deficit are a few times higher than the ones announced by the officials in Romania. Although the official figures have not been published yet, the European Commission says that the budget deficit of last year climbed to 5.25% of GDP, and this year they could reach even 7.5% of GDP," writes Financiarul.
 
For 2010, the European Commission considers that the public deficit will continue to grow, so it will reach 7.9% of GDP in 2010. Under these conditions, EC believes that the Romanian state will have to take high loans, which will lead to a high surge in the public debt, up to 21.1% of GDP, in 2009, and to 26.8% next year, compared with 15.2% last year.
The PD-L and PSD leaders agreed that the budget bill be finalized in a week's time, it is to be debated under emergency procedure in Parliament, writes daily Romania Libera.
 
Minister of Economy Adriean Videanu said, on Monday, after a meeting of the National Standing Bureau of PD-L, that the state budget bill could be debated, in an extraordinary parliamentary session, but this depends on the "calendar of the political decisions." Videanu said that one of the priorities of the budget construction for the year 2009 is the protection of the vulnerable social categories, of people living on low pensions and salaries, not ruling out the variant of the introduction of a minimum guaranteed pension.
 
Former Finance minister Ionut Popescu was appointed personal adviser of prime minister Emil Boc on economic affairs, writes Business Standard. The name of the former senator of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Ionut Popescu was also given as a variant for the position of spokesperson for the Government, a post still unfilled so far. Prime minister Emil Boc appointed, last week, several advisers at the Chancellery.
 
Auchan took over all its stores in Romania, write Financiarul and Business Standard. The French group Auchan has bought a package of 51% of the shares of the company MGV Distri-Hiper, which is managing the Auchan hypermarkets in Romania, coming to control the entire capital of the company, according to an announcement the retailer made on Monday.
 
"Auchan group announces today the purchase of 51% of MGV Distri-Hiper Co., it holds 100% of the capital of the company, following this transaction. MGV Distri-Hipe was set up on May 17, 2005, for setting up and exploiting the Auchan stores in Romania. The partnership among the various shareholders said, as early as it was set up, that the the Auchan shareholding in the capital of the company will go up," reads a press release from Auchan.
 
The foodstuffs from import could get 20-30% more expensive, in the period ahead, because of the devaluation of the Romanian leu currency, and those from the national production could also report a rise, caused by the price rises for energy, said the trade unions in agriculture and the food industry, writes Business Standard.
 
"The euro reaches 4.2-4.3 lei, while, in December, the prices of foods were calculated in euros, at 3.2-3.3 lei per euro. Price surges can be expected. We estimate, that, for the products from import, meat, fruit and vegetables, respectively, the prices will go up 20-30%, function of the leu-euro fluctuation.
The prices of the foodstuffs from the domestic production could go up, also by 15-20%, because of the surge in the prices of utilities," said, for Business Standard, head of the National Federation of the Farmers in Romania Viorel Matei.
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