Government in Bucharest reviews draft budget; The flu epidemic continues, with over 70 victims so far
BUDGET – In Romania, the draft budget for 2019 will be presented on Tuesday in government session and sent back to Parliament. On Sunday, at the end of the meeting of the party Executive National Committee, Liviu Dragnea, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, the main party in the ruling coalition, called on the PM and the Finance Minister to analyze the possibility for some of the money earmarked to secret services to be redirected to healthcare. Mayors of cities and towns are calling for larger budget allocations, since local administrations are expected to soon take over social protection expenses from the government. The draft budget is based on an expected economic growth worth 5.5%, 2.8% inflation, and a 2.5% deficit. The opposition is being critical of the draft law.
FLU – In Romania, the number of victims caused by the influenza epidemic has exceeded 70. In view of the seriousness of the disease, physicians recommend vaccination, strict hygiene, and avoiding crowded areas. Health Minister Sorina Pintea emphasized the fact that the circulation of the virus is not expected to subside in the month of February.
PROTEST – Police officers, correctional officers, and armed forces reservists will march in protest on Thursday and Friday in Bucharest, demanding better working conditions, equitable pay for active personnel, and a stop to discriminatory practices against military retirees. The protests will be held in front of the Interior Ministry and Justice Ministry buildings, as well as in front of Parliament. They are scheduled to coincide with the Informal Meeting of the Justice and Internal Affairs Council, the meeting of line ministers, scheduled to take place in Bucharest as part of Romania's presidency of the Council of the European Union. According to union leadership, salaries in defense, public security and national security have been frozen by government ordinance, while military pensions have been slashed by 30%, with some benefits being withdrawn. Unionists also claim that budget earmarks for improving working conditions and materiel have been dropping constantly.
HANDBALL – In women's handball, SCM Craiova tied away from home, 20-20, on Sunday, against Danish team Nykobing, in a game in Group D of the EHF Cup. In that same competition, in Group A, another Romanian team, Magura Cisnadie, lost at home 32-19 against another Danish team, Esbjerg. On Saturday, Romanian champions CSM Bucharest defeated at home 32-26 Slovenian team Krim Mercator Ljiubljana, in main Group 2 of the Champions League. As a result of this victory, CSM Bucharest is in 3rd place with 8 points.
FILM – Romania competes with the movie Monsters, directed by Marius Olteanu, in the 69th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival, taking place between February 7th and 17th. This is the only feature length movie selected to compete in the festival, running against 16 other productions. Monsters is the story of two young newlyweds who are apparently well loved by their close ones, but criticized behind their back for their life choices. The movie Touch Me Not, by Romanian director Adina Pintilie, got the Golden Bear Award in Berlin in 2018, a movie walking a fine line between fiction, documentary, and visual art.
INTERFAITH – Pope Francis is visiting the United Arab Emirates, the first head of the Catholic Church to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, according to AFP. His visit is under the sign of ecumenical dialog, with an international interdenominational and religious conference. The pontiff will go on to meet Muslim clerics and government officials. Pope Francis will hold a mass on Tuesday on a stadium in Abu Dhabi. According to Vatican estimates, about one million Catholics reside in the Emirates, making up about 10% of the population, most of them Asian guest workers. This makes the UAE the country with the largest Catholic population in the region.