Press review (May 14)

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The Romanian dailies on Thursday give main coverage to the vote of no-confidence that the Emil Boc Government faced; the European Commission’s decision to initiate the excessive deficit procedure on Romania; the debates on the Penal and Civil Codes; the Government’s intention to re-draft the plan meant to counter the effects of the economic crisis following the signing of the loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund; and a march of protest announced by the National Trade Union Bloc.

‘The (Emil) Boc Government goes on”, headlines the Jurnalul National, which reports the Boc Government withstood the first vote of no-confidence that the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) tabled nearly six months since the new rulers took office; the Parliament in a joint sitting on Wednesday rejected the vote of censure easily, the daily adds. During the debates, the former and the current rulers in turn accused one another of having destroyed the country’s economy.

The Cotidianul carries a headline on the same topic: ‘The Government stays, the censure motion falls’, while the Gardianul insists there is a connection between the vote of no-confidence called for by the PNL and UDMR and the European Commission’s initiation of the excessive deficit procedure in an article headlined ‘The European Commission and the political majority are Boc’s weapons against the PNL censure motion’.

The European officials are concerned that the Romanian public deficit has reached 5.4 percent of GDP in 2008, as compared to the allowed limit of 3 percent, with such a figure reflecting significant slippages with respect to spending on the public wages and social benefits, the Bucharest- based papers report.

‘The EU tells us to cut spending’, headlines the Jurnalul National. The European experts also stressed such a large deficit reflects „overly optimistic revenue projections and, to a lesser extent, a sudden drop in revenue collection in the last quarter of 2008 owing to the economic slowdown”, the daily adds.

The topic is also tackled by the Evenimentul zilei in an item headlined ‘In check by June due to the excessive deficit’.

Thursday’s print media carry reports on the meeting between President Traian Basescu and prominent Social Democrat Viorel Hrebenciuc late on Tuesday, when the two officials attended the anniversary of the Group for Social Dialogue, on which occasion they negotiated the Government’s assuming responsibility for the Penal and Civil Codes.

The two politicians reached an agreement in less than 15 minutes, the Ziua writes. What Basescu and Hrebenciuc discussed Tuesday evening became the plan of the ruling coalition of Democrat Liberals and Social Democrats on the Penal and Civil Codes, yesterday morning.

The Codes, already completed by the Parliament’s specialised commissions, will be approved by the Government’s assuming responsibility. As such, the reservations expressed on Wednesday by the ruling coalition leaders – Emil Boc and Mircea Geoana respectively – are merely meant to hide a decision taken over their heads.

The two leaders proposed that the deadline for the approval of the Codes be re-scheduled, since it takes a month for them to be debated with the NGOs, the Evenimentul zilei reports.

After the first anti-crisis measure plan, the Government wants to launch a second one meant to see an economic upturn and strengthen the effects of the first one.

Prime Minister Emil Boc announced at Wednesday’s debates in Parliament of the censure motion called ‘The Great PDL-PSD Swindle’ that the new plan will be drafted after closing the agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

He cited before the MPs the same measures announced two months ago meant to complete the programme for fighting the economic crisis, the Gandul reports.

Such measures include dropping or cutting 179 taxes and para-fiscal tariffs by June 15 and backing the agricultural production.

The Government also promises to guarantee the loans contracted by the young persons to purchase their first house and to back the strategic sectors of the economy by guarantees and state aid.

‘Boc announces a plan to re-launch the re-launch of the economy, a non¬existing plan’, headlines the Gandul.

The single salary for the public sector staff will start from the assumption that the executive, legislative and judicial powers should be on an equal footing, the Cotidianul says. The Government on Wednesday discussed the public sector staff’s single pay, but has yet to make a decision on the highest salary.

„We start from the assumption that there should be balance among the executive, legislative and judicial powers, given that they are important powers of the state and the talks will begin from an equal position of the three powers. The amount is to be set following the negotiations’, Boc said after the Government’s meeting. He added that there will also be talks to set the highest wage in the public sector.

‘Good news: The percentage of the companies making redundancies has halved’, the Ziarul financiar announces; it reports that ‘Just 28 percent of the companies in the market give up managers and specialists, that is nearly half less when compared to the percentage of the companies that had announced layoffs in last December, according to a survey of the labour market conducted by executive search company Antal in this April-May’.

The Economy Ministry plans to sell the reserve of emission certificates for much lower amounts than the ones in the market, the Bucharest-based dailies report.

The Economy Ministry gets ready to sell the entire ‘clean air’ reserve of Romania known at present and even more than that.

The ministry hopes to attract at least 1.5 billion euros from such transactions. According to a draft urgent act of the Government, the money will be invested in environmental projects, but meanwhile it will be kept in the State Treasury, so that it may be ‘borrowed’ for other purposes, the Ziua points out.

However, the price the Romanian state plans to be paid for such emission certificates is much lower than the one paid on the international market, so that it means that either the Government wants to make ‘gifts’ to the governments of other states, that need emission quotas, or the price difference will be found in other accounts than the state’s, the Ziua writes in an item headlined ‘Clean air for close to nothing’.

Some 10,000 trade unionists affiliated to the National Trade Union Bloc (BNS) will march in protest in Bucharest today. They will stop at the headquarters of the Government, Economy Ministry and Labour Ministry, the Evenimentul zilei and Gardianul report.

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