Press review (Aug 6)

The Romanian newspapers on Thursday report that President Traian Basescu could run for a fresh term as an independent in this autumn presidential polls; they also carry reports on the restructuring of the public sector staff and the authorities’ plans to keep the lump sum tax by year-end.

Incumbent President Traian Basescu will seek a new term as an independent. Opposition Liberal Relu Fenechiu says he has reliable information that this is going to happen.

‘The theft and blunders committed by the Emil Boc Government will damage Basescu’s image a lot, so that he even risks not getting to the second round of voting.

He is now looking for a saver solution, with one of them being an independent candidacy, as he hopes it will help him distance himself from the Government’, Fenechiu explained.

Another scenario evoked by Liberal Horia Uioreanu is that Boc himself will run for the Romanian top job under the Democratic Liberal Party’s banner and go for the Russian Putin-Medvedev model, by naming Basescu a Prime Minister.

However, the chances that such a scenario succeeds are slim, given that it is unlikely that Basescu might take a risk with Boc, whom the recent surveys show he is either non-existent or has very low public approval, the Gardianul writes.

The rural community mayors, discontent that the rulers do not listen to their demands, threaten to boycott this autumn’s presidential vote. The members of the Romanian Country Town Mayors’ Association met in Constanta (southeastern Romania) yesterday and drafted a protest against the rulers.

Association chairman Emil Draghici explained the mayors protested against the attitude of the rulers, who sent only state secretaries or ministry directors to attend the Association meeting, the Cronica Romana, Curierul National and Ziua report.

Some 300,000 public sector staff must be made redundant so that the Government may please Traian Basescu, the Jurnalul National writes. Prime Minister Emil Boc announced late on Wednesday that 9,200 positions in the state apparatus will be cut, following the restructuring of 226 agencies.

The decision was made by the Government in its meeting on Wednesday, as an International Monetary Fund delegation is visiting Romania to evaluate its economy and barely days after President Basescu had recommended the executive to cut the state sector personnel by 20 percent.

Boc announced late on Wednesday that out of 226 governmental agencies just 107 will be kept, with 33 of them being required in Romania’s relation with the European Union, the Bucharest-based dailies report.

The National Bank of Romania is seen as the only institution that cares for the Romanians’ interests, according to a survey conducted by GFK Romania, which integrates information from three sources: a consumer panel, qualitative research and quantitative research, the Azi reports.

The lump sum tax could be kept by the end of the year.

After talks held in the commissions of the ruling Social Democrats and Democrat Liberals on the proposed moves to combat the economic crisis, also taken into account was the prospect of using the greenhouse gas emission quotas assigned Romania by the Kyoto Protocol combined with selling the state minority stakes, the Azi reports.

Such moves are meant to boost the budget revenues, which is one of the three chapters of measures envisaged by Prime Minister Emil Boc and SME Minister Constantin Nita, Economy Minister Adriean Videanu and Finances Minister Gheorghe Pogea, the Azi reports.

The Curentul says it has obtained an exchange of emails showing that steel maker ArcelorMittal Galati executives are changing the traditional route for supplying the raw material to the southeastern Romanian-based plant from Constanta-Danube-Black Sea Canal to the route of Burgas-Bystroye Canal and that ArcelorMittal is paying double costs for such a change.

Recent information has revealed that ArcelorMittal Galati has set up a genuine embargo against Romanian Comvex Company, by taking advantage of its dominating position on the market.

Using an alternative supply route for the Galati-based steel mill hits not only Comvex terminal, but also the Black Sea port of Constanta and the Danube-Black Sea Canal.

The Fair Trade Council is already examining the possibility that the fair competition law has been violated by ArcelorMittal Galati, the Curentul and Ziarul financiar report.

Romanian biggest company Petrom posted 923 million lei (218.2 million euros) in H1 net profit, down 45 percent from last year; about one third of it was entirely gained by the risk-covering financial instruments.

However, the profit made by oil company Petrom exceeded by 18 percent the gains of its majority shareholder Austrian OMV group, which reported gains worth 185 million euros, the Ziarul financiar reports. While Petrom profit plunged 45 percent, it still is above the analysts’ expectations, the Bursa says in a headline.

Poli Timisoara has qualified in the Champions League play-off after the match with Shakhtar Donetsk, coached by Romanian Mircea Lucescu, ended in a draw in the third qualifying round, second leg on Wednesday, the national papers announce.

A Romanian mountain climber plunged to his death while descending the Mont Blanc, in the French Alps on Wednesday, at a height of 4,000 metres. The man, who slipped 200 metres, was found 15-m deep in the Dome du Gouter crevasse, a stage in the ascension of Europe’s highest peak, the Romanian dailies report.

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