Measures – The Romanian finance minister, Adrian Câciu, has said that the package of social and economic measures "Support for Romania", announced on Monday evening by the ruling coalition leaders, mainly targets the economy, maintaining jobs, and supporting vulnerable people. The package agreed upon by the Social Democratic Party - PSD, the National Liberal Party - PNL and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania - UDMR is worth over 17 billion lei (about 3.5 billion Euros). The measures include the granting of 50-Euro vouchers every two months for the purchase of basic foodstuffs for low-income families and 30 - Euro vouchers for the more than 150,000 students who receive social scholarships. This amount will be used for food, school supplies and clothing. Other measures proposed are a minimum gross salary of 3,000 lei in agriculture and the food industry as well as money for investments.
Visit – The European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, continues today her visit to Bucharest, where she participates in a video conference with the transport ministers from Romania, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The commissioner announced her intention to discuss with the Romanian officials the ways for a better absorption of EU funds for infrastructure and to find solutions for rail, road, river and sea freight transport from Ukraine and Moldova, Romania’s neighbors. On Monday, the PM Nicolae Ciuca and the European Commissioner for Transport agreed to work closely with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova to facilitate the transport of goods. The agenda of talks also includes the development of the transport infrastructure in Romania, and the impact of the crisis in Ukraine, respectively.
Statistics – In Romania, the annual inflation rate rose to 10.15% in March, from 8.53% in February, against the backdrop of higher prices for non-food products, foods and services, according to data published today by National Institute of Statistics (INS). Consumer prices augmented by 1.9% in March compared to February. The inflation rate at the beginning of the year (March 2022 compared to December 2021) stands at 4%. At the same time, the annual inflation rate in March 2022 compared to March 2021 is 10.2%. The central bank forecasts an inflation rate of 11.2% at the end of the second quarter of this year, 10.2% at the end of the third quarter of this year and 9.6% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2022.
Accession – After Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Romania's neighbor, also received the European Commission's questionnaire for EU accession discussions. The document marks a starting point for a membership decision, being a first step in a long process that should bring Moldova the official status of a candidate country for EU accession. Romania insists on the community bloc receiving its two neighboring countries as soon as possible, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine - The next period is crucial for Ukraine, Western officials say, as the Russian forces are getting re-equipped and redistributed. President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that Russia is concentrating tens of thousands of soldiers for the next offensive in eastern Ukraine. About 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians were made prisoner by the Russian troops, according to Kyiv Independent. On the other hand, the White House expects even greater atrocities in Ukraine committed by the Russian troops under the command of General Aleksandr Dvornikov, recently appointed commander. He is nicknamed the "Syrian butcher" after being at the command of the Russian forces involved in the Syrian civil war, during which they brutally bombed numerous civilian targets. The US and the UK are looking into reports according to which chemical weapons have been used by Russian forces in attacks on Mariupol, a strategic port city under siege for more than a month. The Ukrainian Azov Battalion, barricaded in Mariupol, claims that a Russian drone dropped a 'toxic substance' on the soldiers and civilians in the area, saying that several people were suffering from respiratory and neurological problems. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol since the invasion began, Mayor Vadim Boicenko announced.
Refugees – More than 72,000 people, including 8,350 Ukrainian citizens, entered Romania on Monday, according to the Border Police. 4,924 Ukrainian citizens entered Romania (slightly increase by 0.9%) through the border crossing with Ukraine, and 1,505 (increase by 8.1%) through the border with the Republic of Moldova. Since the start of the crisis, until Monday, more than 685,000 Ukrainian citizens have entered Romania. (LS)