Press review (May 11)

The Romanian daily papers on Monday carry reports on the start of the electoral campaign for the European Parliament polls; the results of the most recent survey of the voters’ trust in the political parties; decisions made by the Emil Boc Government on the decentralisation of the administration; and the Romanian authorities’ concern for strengthening the efficient collection of taxes and for securing the required money to pay the salaries and pensions amid the economic crisis.

The Romanian parties at the end of last week introduced their candidates for the elections for the European Parliament by staging genuine shows to attract their voters. The main three parties – Democrat Liberal Party (PD-L), Social Democrat Party (PSD) and National Liberal Party (PNL) presented their candidates for MEPs, but – the Ziarul financiar points out – the stars were the presidential hopefuls who thus made their debut in a race that looks set to be long and not lacking surprises.

‘Traian Basescu gives signs of running for a fresh term’, headlines the Evenimentul zilei. ‘The parties started the electoral campaign by tough remarks on the contenders’, says the Curierul National, ‘The presidential hopefuls gave the first electoral show, pushing the Euro-polls into the background’, writes the Ziarul financiar, ‘2 in 1 campaign: Euro-polls and presidential polls’, says the Cotidianul, while the Romania libera adds in a headline: ‘The presidential balloting pushes the Euro¬parliamentary elections into background’.

The alliance of Social Democrats and Conservatives (PSD+PC, a ruling coalition partner) is seen getting 30.9 percent of the votes for the European Parliament, while their ruling partners Democrat Liberals (PD-L) would get 30.8 percent, shows an INSOMAR survey carried by the Evenimentul zilei.

Lagging behind are the National Liberals (PNL) with 18 percent, the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) with 7.9 percent and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) with 6.2 percent; Romanian president’s daughter Elena Basescu, who runs as an independent is seen getting 4.2 percent of the votes.

A party should get 5 percent in order to win a MEP’s seat, while an independent needs 3.3 percent.

The Emil Boc Cabinet, at an extraordinary meeting on Sunday, gave the green light to the first strategies on decentralisation. The strategies target three areas, namely the health care, sport and the Police, with the strategies on education, agriculture, culture and labour to be approved in the next 10 days.

‘The decentralisation means we’ll give the local or county authorities prerogatives accompanied by the financial resources to enable them to better resolve the problems that the people in the local communities face.

It is, in fact, an enactment of the principle of subsidiarity, that says the decision should be made by the authorities who are closest to the citizen’, the prime minister is quoted by the Gandul as saying. ‘The big decentralisation has begun’, the Jurnalul National announces in a headline.

The Bucharest-based newspapers give extensive coverage to the topic in items headlined: ‘Boc has begun the decentralisation’ (Curentul), ‘The policemen and GPs are in the mayors’ hands’ (Adevarul), ‘The hospitals and the public health directorates will be managed by the local authorities starting 2010’ (Gardianul), ‘We are going to have two Police forces: a national and a local one’ (Gandul), ‘The decentralisation of health care, administration and sport has begun’ (Cotidianul).

Prime Minister Boc announced that ‘we were close’ to not being able to pay the salaries and pensions at the end of April, the Cur ierul National reports in a headline.

Boc said on Saturday that the Government had experienced a difficult time at the end of April, when it had been close or ‘not far’ from not being able to pay the salaries and pensions, but he added that tough moment was overcome and he hopes there would not be another one.

The prime minister stressed the understanding with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the best agreement Romania has ever closed.

He also said on Saturday the Government should consider a possible change of the laws on the civil servants, so that once a senior civil servant no longer holds a position in the state structures, he/she should not longer be paid by the Government, Monday’s dailies report.

The Romanian Railways (CFR) shareholders early this week will discuss plans meant for those loss-making railways to either stop activity or to be turned to private hands.

According to an internal document obtained by the Adevarul, each of the eight CFR Regional Branches will closed the railway stretches that post no efficiency or that run at losses. Such stretches are staffed by more than 2,300 people.

While some of such railways might prove to be opportunities for development for the private sector, they mean redundancies for the CFR employees.
All the employees of ArcelorMittal Galati steel mill go on short-time working, in turn, from Monday, the Gardianul announces in a headline.

‘CFR wants to close 52 railways’, says the Adevarul, while the Gandul adds that ‘Romania’s billionaires lay off staff in order to save cash’.

Romania runs the risk of losing European pre-accession funds at more than 10 million euros (41.9 million lei) extended under the PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD programmes, due to delayed tenders, a lack of money to co-fund the projects and the poor quality of the works already begun, the Jurnalul National reports.

The loss-making contracts were closed for the rehabilitation of county roads, the extension of the water supply systems and the waste management systems and the extension of the electricity networks, the upgrading of streets, the development of the tourist services, the Romanian dailies report.

The Emil Boc Cabinet drew up a draft emergency ordinance meant to improve the fiscal procedures and to curb tax evasion, the Gardianul announces.

The draft act extends the Tax Guard’s powers by giving its inspectors the right to seize assets during the check-ups they make, to require the persons on the verification site to show their ID and to take active part in searches, the daily adds.

‘We seek thus to boost the operability and efficiency of the actions conducted by the tax inspectors and to increase the revenues attracted to the budget’, says the explanatory note to the draft act, which adds that the ‘not noticed’ economy has grown from 14.5 percent of GDP in 2004 to 21 percent of GDP in 2008.

‘Hedging saved a third of Oil Company Petrom profit in the first quarter’, says the Ziarul financiar; it explains that the hedging made by the company as early as in 2008 in relation to the oil barrel price accounts for nearly a third of the company’s 118.5 million euros in net profit.

The Business Standard shows the opportunities opened to the Romanian organic farming by two financing projects backed by the Swiss Government in order to promote the organic products on the European markets.

One of the projects is aimed at the organic certification in Romania, while the other refers the sustainable development of the exports of organic products.

The Romanian under-21 national rugby squad won the European title in Madrid after defeating Georgia 27-2 0 (0-17), the sport papers announce. U-21 Romania thus keep their European title they won last year. At this year’s edition Romania beat Sweden, Portugal and Georgia.

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