Press review (Dec 30)

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The announcement of the start, on Jan. 11, of debates for the adoption of the state budget, commentaries on budget earmarks to the ministries, the price hikes planned for 2010 and the rise in electricity consumption towards the end of the current year – as a major indicator of the evolution of the economy, are the main subjects given coverage to in the national papers on Wednesday, December 30.

Next year is expected to settle one way or the other the fate of the global simmering conflict, an integrant part in the positioning and resetting of alliances between the major geopolitical players. Generally speaking, in its current formula and at an unprecedented intensity in history, this conflict set on immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain, when many political analysts felt that the collapse of the communist system would be equivalent to a return of the immense Eurasian territories to the Stone Age, writes daily Ziua.

2010 will be the year when the EU will attempt to uphold its energy security by striking a complex economic and military partnership, first with Russia – its great strategic and economic partner in the near future – then with China and India, thus literally offering itself the chance to survive as a superpower and global player, columnist Cristian Unteanu writes in the cited newspaper.
The Standing Bureaus of the two Parliament Chambers decided that the lawmaking body shall convene in plenary sittings starting January 11 to adopt the budget, a move much delayed by the prolonged political crisis.

Beyond the ‘macroeconomic indicators’ agreed upon with international financial institutions, the draft budget is about to spark major discontent. It seems that education will not get 6 pct of the GDP and therefore 33,000 jobs need to be shed, and despite legal provisions requiring this, the budget of research will not get to 1 pct of the GDP next year either, writes daily Romania libera.

Spending with publicly paid personnel will rise in 2010 whereas the amounts assigned for investments, highways included, will decrease. The 2010 budget promotes austerity for investment programs, but not for public employees, as the government’s budget blueprint provides staff costs by an average of 15 pct higher compared to 2009, while appropriations for investments are slashed more than 25 pct. Economist Daniel Daianu says that most likely, the increase in staff-assigned funding is a consequence of the reorganization of governmental agencies, daily Evenimentul Zilei writes under the headline ‘New Boc more wasteful than the old Boc.’

A change in the single vote law instates the monopoly of parliamentary parties on MP seat vacancies. The amendment, made in September at the proposal of the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP) and come into effect with the enactment of the law at the end of October, provides that only those parties can participate in partial elections that met, in general elections, the threshold set forth by the legislation in force, Wednesday’s newspapers report.

Electricity consumption, an accurate indicator of an economy’s evolution, which fell sharply this year amid the economic crisis, recovered in the last month of 2009 reverting to the same level as last December, writes daily Evenimentul Zilei.
According to Transelectrica data, in the first three weeks of December, energy consumption was very close to that recorded in the same period of last year, writes the paper under the headline ‘How Christmas light installations have saved economy in December: energy consumption up in line with 2008 level.’

Price rises in store for Romanians next year target vices in particular, but a great part of foodstuffs and bakery products will not be spared either. Starting January 1 we will dig deeper into our pockets to pay for excise goods: fuels, cigarettes and alcohol. The good news is that some luxury items will grow cheaper, comments daily Adevarul.

Romanians who buy cars from the EU until December 31 will have another 45 days after January 1 to register them without paying the environmental tax, provided that the cars are Euro 4 compliant and have an engine displacement below 2,000 ccm, Prime Minister Emil Boc announced on Tuesday. The Prime Minister also announced that the ‘Ramshackle’ car scrappage program would continue next year too, but that it would also apply to legal entities, write dailies Ziua and Gandul.

Economists in almost one voice contradict redundancy figures estimated by the government for 2010, projecting a bleaker future, Wednesday’s newspapers write. Although state representatives said that next year the unemployment rate would drop to 7.3 pct, economic analysts say that it will actually rise to 9 – 10 pct. This figure very much depends on the government’s future public sector adjustment measures, comments daily Evenimentul Zilei.

The Romanians have 6 pct less money in their pockets compared with the year before, notes daily Ziarul Financiar, specifying that money in circulation, specifically cash available to individuals and companies reduced 6 pct this year because of the economic crisis, the National Bank of Romania announced.

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