Press review (Jan 27)

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Romania's national dailies of Tuesday give main coverage to the significance of the IMF returning to Romania; nearly 150,000 Romanians expected to be placed on short-time working; the latest previsions of Austrian Erste Bank group concerning Romania's economy; Romanians' difficulties in paying out leasing installments; the main priorities of the education minister.
 
Jurnalul national carries an article by business analyst Ilie Serbanescu headlined "The returning of the IMF, a reflection of management failure," in which the analyst says "it was some two-three years ago that the Tariceanu Government would disregard the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arguing that Romania no longer needed the financial assistance of this organisation, or its expertise and recommendations.
 
Many analysts hailed this ‘breakaway", myself included, for the real reason that the IMF recipes bring about economic balance through restrictions, but they fail to promote economic growth. Yet, back then, it was unthinkable that after only three-four years Romania would be brought back in a situation in which it is again at the mercy of the IMF.
 
This is a perfect example of pathetic economic management in the meantime. It is in a way the most resounding and peremptory failure in Romania's post December-1989 period, because the return of the IMF does not occur in the aftermath of some economic collapse, but after economic growth.
 
Cotidianul remarks that the Social Democratic Party (PSD) accuses its ruling partner, the Democratic-Liberal Party (PD-L), of having stolen form its funds and offices. Tensions in the ruling coalition, the paper writes, are about to explode: PDL has pumped up the budgets of its ministries, while PSD has been refused funds for education, healthcare and pensions. Moreover, Prime Minister Emil Boc is said to refuse to appoint the PSD state secretaries and is calling for renewed negotiations of the ruling and local majority protocol.
 
Adevarul reports that 150,000 Romanians have been placed on short-time working. "Nearly 150,000 Romanians employed by the Dacia automobile maker or its suppliers on Monday were placed on short-time working and they will not resume work earlier than February 9, according to Deputy Chairman of the Automobile Dacia trade union Ion Iordache. For the first time, Dacia's equipment suppliers are thus directly hit by the financial crisis facing Dacia and halt business for the time the Dacia employees are on short-time working.
 
Romania libera remarks that Romania's exports are plummeting, saying the absence of contracts with foreign partners and the decline of the automotive and the metallurgical industries damaged Romania's exports in the past two months of 2008, while the beginning of the new year indicates a possible halving of the exporters' business in the first quarter of 2009. Falling exports are expected to trigger a chain reaction that will witness factory closures and pressure on the local currency, the leu (RON), the paper writes.
 
Romania libera remarks that unemployment is expanding quickly in Romania, saying unemployment is expected to advance 13 percent worldwide and 25 percent in Romania. Unemployment in December 2008 advanced at a record pace of the past 7 years.
 
Business Standard writes that Austrian Erste Bank believes Romania will face the easiest crisis in Eastern Europe. Erste says Romania's economy might increase by 4 percent, according to its latest estimates. This growth estimate is the most optimistic, even more so than the Romania Government's projected 2.5-percent growth. Erste also expects a 5.4-percent rise in Romania's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
 
Ziua remarks that leasing installments are increasingly harder to service in Romania. "There are increasingly more Romanians facing difficulties in paying out the leasing installments for products. Lease officials argue that the number of lease defaulters has increased spectacularly and the situation would be even worse if the lease companies failed to seek solutions together with their customers.
 
In some instances, periods of grace of some months are extended. Sources with the lease market indicate that the number of lease defaulters reached 5 percent, from just 0.2 percent in the years before. In most cases, the lease companies' financial solutions had to do with cost cuts and expanding the periods of grace, or else they face recouping goods for which there are no buyers.
 
Adevarul carries an interview with Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu, in which the minister says the Romanian education system needs performance assessment criteria for the teaching staff. It informs that Andronescu has established the main priorities of her term in office that include introducing performance assessment in the education system at the same time with increasing teachers' pay.
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