Press review (Feb 4)

The Romanian dailies on Thursday, Feb. 4 carry extensive commentaries on the future possible leaders of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), that makes the final preparations for internal elections and they run items and analyses on an announcement made by the European producers regarding major investments in the auto component market, the investment opportunities in the real estate market this year and the possible introduction of a new property tax starting 2011.

With two weeks to go till the opposition Social Democrats elect a new leader, incumbent party chairman Mircea Geoana and senior leader Adrian Nastase are seen as standing the biggest chances to be elected. Former Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu and senior leader Miron Mitrea are also credited with winning the party’s top position.

While both Diaconescu and Mitrea officially say they plan to run for PSD chief, off the record they seem to have reached an understanding to set up a team of their own and to fight together in order they should establish themselves as a third option, Evenimentul zilei reports. The PSD honorary president Ion Iliescu said it is possible that fresh candidates emerge at the meeting of the party National Council on Thursday.

Here are some headlines carried by the Bucharest-based papers on this topic: ‘The anti-Geoana camp is getting shape. Diaconescu allies with Mitrea. What will Nastase do?’ (Gandul); ‘Is Adrian Nastase in a win-win position?’ (Romania libera); ‘Iliescu: Opposition is a necessary purgatory for the serious parties, it purges them of parasites’ (Cotidianul).

Twelve European auto component makers want to re-locate to Romania, Ziarul financiar quotes Constantin Stroe, the president of the Romanian Auto Makers Association, as announcing. Stroe said the 12 potential investors plan to build production facilities in Romania. Romanian housing prices will hit a low in the next five months and now is the proper time to make investments, say real estate analysts cited by Jurnalul National, while Curierul National anticipates that ‘The real estate market could stabilise this year’.

The new property tax, higher than the one paid at present, could take force as early as starting next year. ‘There is no calculation of the tax levels at this moment. /…/ It is a matter we are discussing, maybe we find solutions for next year’, Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu said in an interview with Evenimentul zilei. The minister had said two weeks ago that he wanted to tax the Romanian pieces of property at their real value, a fact that would push the tax levels up to ‘the neighbourhood of thousands of euros’.

U.S. company Bechtel, that builds Transylvania Motorway in central Romania, announced it would make collective redundancies, since it had not received all the money due last year. The trade unionists say they have already got the decisions in this respect.
The Transport Ministry is waiting for the budget revision, Gandul says. Given that last year’s outstanding amounts of 200 million euros have not yet been paid and the Romanian National Motorways and National Roads Company has no other money available to continue the works on Transylvania Motorway, Bechtel on Wednesday threatened it would lay off staff, Gandul and Cotidianul report.

The Romanian gas pipeline system will be linked to the neighbouring countries in the coming years. A pipeline linking Arad (western Romania) to Szeged, Hungary will become operational in the next two months, while the linkage to Bulgaria will be completed in 2011, Adevarul reports.

The Romanian national gas system is currently linked to Ukraine’s only, namely at Isaccea, the eastern Tulcea county and at Mediesu Aurit, the northern Satu Mare county, where Romania gets Russian-shipped gas. Furthermore, Romania is crossed by a transit pipeline in its southeastern Dobrogea region, that carries Russian gas to the Balkans. Europe is 25 percent dependent on Russian gas, so that one of the European Union’s strategic directions is to curb the dependency on Russian gas supplies, Adevarul writes.

Romanian fishermen could sell their catches on the Internet by setting up a fish exchange in the Danube River port of Tulcea (eastern Romania), Financiarul announces. The Romanian Song-Writers and Musicologists Union – the Association for Royalties – at a news conference on Wednesday voiced discontent over plans to be force the persons whose income is exclusive earned from royalties to pay social security contributions of 31.3 percent.
The Union members thus protested over draft legislation filed to the Deputies’ Chamber, which they say attempts to curb the royalties that the Romanian and foreign song-writers get, Jurnalul National reports.

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