Press review (Aug 17)

The Romanian dailies on Monday give main coverage to the ways in which the Government understands to solve the economic crisis, the use of the money borrowed from the IMF, the fight on the domestic political scene ahead of the election campaign for Romanian president and comments on the planned salary law in the public sector.

No government in the world was struck by the bright idea that has enlightened Prime Minister Emil Boc recently, says senator and poet Adrian Paunescu in an editorial feature carried by the Jurnalul National in reference to the Romanian prime minister’s idea to send the public sector staff home for 10 days in each of the next three months in order to save money to the budget.

The fact that the radical Romanian premier (who every four-five sentences speaks of sending the staff home) could have reached such a solution, which some think is impossible, automatically qualifies him as the only Romanian citizen who should stay at work in order to rule over the several million staff who are put on short-time working with no pay, Paunescu says.

While the public sector personnel is forced to go on unpaid leave, the Bucharest District 6 City Hall will spend 47 million euros on grass and creepers, the Gandul reports.

The money will be used to arrange the green spaces in Bucharest’s Militari and Drumul Taberei neighbourhoods.
As much as 20 million euros was directly assigned from the local budget under the resolution passed by the District council and another 27 million euros is non-repayable European funds aimed at urban re-arrangement.

Theodor Stolojan, who was the ruling Democrat Liberals’ first proposal for prime minister after last autumn’s general elections, launched an attack on the Government at Realitatea TV news channel on Saturday, slamming the budget rises at the two ministries currently being inquired over alleged mismanagement of the public funds: the tourism ministry and the youth and sport ministry.

While MEP Stolojan says such spending is mere ‘bamboozle’, for Democrat Liberal veteran Adriean Videanu the expenditure promoted by the tourism ministry is a necessity, the Ziua points out.
The actions taken by the Emil Boc cabinet seem to stir tension among the president’s men.

While President Traian Basescu has begun to criticize the Government irrespective of whether it is the Democrat Liberals (PD-L) or the Social Democrats (PSD) to blame, now Theodor Stolojan has taken one step further and he attacks PD-L’s Tourism Minister Elena Udrea, who he says is guilty of squandering the public money, the Evenimentul zilei reports.

The number of the public sector personnel working in the local administrations will be set depending on the number of locals in each city or rural town, according to the single cost standards relating the local administrations that the ministers of finances and administration discussed with the local leaders.

Thus, those who will be left outside such calculation will be laid off, i.e. more than 50 percent of the personnel working in town halls, local councils and county councils.

When contacted by the Cotidianul, Public Finances Minister Gheorghe Pogea declined to make public the number of the local public administration staff to be made redundant, but he offered a minimum and a maximum ceiling of the percentage of the state personnel in relation to the population they have to serve.

President Traian Basescu and his men in the PD-L publicly distance themselves from the Government led by Democrat Liberal Emil Boc, thus fuelling rumours that the incumbent president could seek a fresh term as an independent, the Cotidianul reports.

Basescu, while speaking at the public television recently, has sent a clear signal that he is distancing himself from the Boc Government and the PDL-PSD ruling coalition, which he had sponsored.

The head of state has accused both parties that their behaviour is ridiculous, they ignore the economic crisis and are solely concerned with the presidential pre-election campaign.

The Romanian president registered his second failure in his moves to mediate a conflict between the judicial and the executive power over the salary bonuses to be given the magistrates, the Cotidianul reports.

The President’s Office, in a press release late on Friday, announced a new failure of the dialogue between the justice and the government representatives.

‘At this moment, there are no financial resources to cover such claims’ – this is the main conclusion of the press release issued by Cotroceni Palace at the end of Friday’s mediation.

Every few weeks the finances ministry announces it has taken a fresh loan, the Gandul reports.

Such borrowed amounts, be they from the domestic or from the foreign market, have contributed to raising the public debt that could reach 33 – 34 percent of GDP by year-end, from just 21 percent at the beginning of the year.

The most recent example is of a 447 million euro loan that the state drew from 11 banks at the end of last week by a forex government bonds issue. This is the first such operation in the last five years.

The interest offered stands at 5.25 percent per annum for four years as compared to 10-12 percent interests paid for the national currency leu sums attracted this year. The sate will pay some 100 million euros in interest alone, the Gandul explains.

The new salary law will bring a paradox: what is being gained now by massive redundancies in the state sector will be lost by raising the salaries of those who stay employed, the Evenimentul zilei writes.

Establishing the state sector employees’ pay depending on the minimum wage in the economy renders the state sector redundancies useless. If the minimum salary rises from Jan. 1, 2010, the salaries of all the public sector staff categories will be raised.

This means the sacrifice of those sacked will merely fuel the salary rises for those who stay employed.

Thousands of policemen will stage protests all over Romania from Monday till Friday between 10 and 12 a.m., over the lack of the money in the system; in Bucharest, the policemen will protest in front of the presidential Cotroceni Palace, the finance ministry and the interior ministry. About 100-150 policemen will protest in each county, the Ziua reports.

The Anonimul (Anonymous) Film Festival ended six-day events in the Danube Delta town of Sfantu Gheorghe late on Saturday, when the winning films were announced at the two competition sections – long feature films and short fiction films and animations respectively, the Romania libera reports.

The festival winner is ‘The Other Irina’, a drama starring Andi Vasluianu, Vlad Ivanov and Doru Ana that tells the story of a man who discovers the woman he loves only after her death. The story is based on the real case of a young woman who left for work in Egypt and came home in a coffin.

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