Press review (Aug 27)

Romania’s national dailies of Thursday give main coverage to the appropriations for the ministries at the recent Budget rectification; Romanians facing difficulties in repaying their bank loans; the CFR national railway carrier to lay off workers.

Gardianul remarks that while the appropriations for the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry have been each cut by more than RON 100 million (1 euro = RON 4.21), the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Transport Ministry the Economy Ministry and the Labour Ministry have all got RON 5 million more in appropriations at the latest Budget rectification.

Jurnalul national notes that the Government will earmark RON 120 million to thae mayoralties that have failed to cover their utilities costs as a result of a shortage of revenues generated by the ongoing economic crisis.

The papers quote Prime Minister Emil Boc as saying the appropriations will be distributed at the next Budget rectification, which is expected to be approved on Saturday by the Government. Boc also explains that the mayoralties need the money to cover their running costs.

Gardianul also remarks that the parliamentary inquiry committee investigating Tourism Minister Elena Udrea might lodge a criminal complaint against Udrea if it is satisfied that the legal deadline for the submission of the documents request by the committee has been exceeded by 20 days.

Udrea might be investigated for having breached the Law on ministerial answerability.

The initial deadline expired on August 25, at which time the documents submitted by Udrea to Parliament were still to reach the committee. On the other hand, the paper quotes Udrea as saying she deserves a statue for the Tourism Ministry’s money she has managed to save.

The paper quotes Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu as saying the Social Democratic Party (PSD) will stay in the ruling coalition to carry out its duty to the country.

It says that the issues recently circulated both in political quarters and in the media regarding either chasing PSD out of the Government or reshuffling the Government seem to be mere speculations.

Although they are attacking each other quite frequently, particularly on weekends, PSD and the Democratic-Liberal Party (PD-L), both in the ruling coalition, make peace each Monday at the weekly meeting of the ruling coalition.

The paper also remarks that paying back the loans taken out during the economic boom is becoming an increasingly harder task for the Romanians hit by the crisis. Official data indicate that more than 600,000 were more than 30 days delayed in paying their installments as of JUne.

The conflict between debtors and the banks can be solved if the loan delinquents show up at the banks asking for delays or rescheduling, or else the delinquents risk ending up in the hands of loan retrievers or court bailiffs.

Even the relation with the loan retrievers, the paper says, can be amiable if the person receiving the summons to pay back a loan asks for a new repayment agreement.

Curentul reports than nearly 11,000 workers of the CFR national railway carrier are to be laid off, according to data revealed by the Transport Ministry to trade unions.

After a meeting of the two parties, Transport Minister Radu Berceanu stated that the trade unions have some general grievances, including the fact that freight is more frequently transported on roads than on railroads, saying that this is true and that he is also displeased.

The paper quotes leader of the Federation of Train Engine Mechanics Iulian Mantescu as saying between 800 and 1,000 workers of the CFR Infrastructura, the infrastructure arm of the corporation and, 50 percent of the CFR Marfa, the freight arm, or 8,500 workers, are to be made redundant. The trade union leaders will receive today the materials they have to analyse by next week.

Ziarul financiar reports that the Kazakhs are preparing a takeover bid for Rompetrol Rafinare. The Rompetrol Group, the company controlling Rompetrol Rafinare (RRC), an oil refinery floated on the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB), has asked the National Securities Commission (CNVM) regulator to extend to October 30 the deadline for the submission of the documentation for the takeover bid.

They mentioned that the delay is the result of the evaluation of RRC being a complex operation that cannot be completed within the initial deadline, according to a report released by Romperol Rafinare.

The paper also reports that the trade unions are suggesting capping the social security contributions of workers employed on other contracts than employment contracts.

Chairman of the BNS National Trade Union Bloc Dumitru Costin is quotes as having said after a meeting with Government officials on Wednesday that he suggested that the social security contributions of workers employed on other contracts than employment contracts be capped at three average wages, which would give 0.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Costin also said that if all contracts are to be taxed, others than employment contracts, the social security contributions should be capped at three average wages once the Pension Law is rewritten.

Ziarul financiar also remarks that 20 of Romania’s largest companies started the year of crisis with their balance sheets full of total debts exceeding 8.3 billion euros for an aggregate business turnover of 24 billion euros, according to data posted by the Finance Ministry on its website.

The largest private debtor is Petrom, which in late 2008 was more than 1.3 billion euros in debt for a turnover of 4.5 billion euros and a net profit of 277.8 million euros.

Besides Petrom, controlled by Austrian OMV, Rompetrol Rafinare, taken over by Kazakh KazMunaiGaz, Petrotel Lukoil and Lukoil Romania, both controlled by Russia’s Lukoil, are companies having amassed debts of hundreds of millions of euros, the paper notes.

Ziua reports that the Health Ministry has announced it will modify the residency examinations to offer all medicine graduates an opportunity to specialise.

Thus, starting in 2010, the new training system for the residency examination will allow the medicine undergraduates access to free practice and training in various specialties.

Moreover, the current draft ordinance allows for an enlargement of the training curricula for all the medicine graduates and winning the right to free practice after 3-year training, as mentioned in the relevant European rules.

This way, the nearly 1,200 medicine graduates who would so far fail to win a place on residency training will be allowed to opt for continuing post graduation training and specialise in family medicine.

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