IMF mission in Bucharest these days; ex-Interior Minister prosecuted for abuse of office
IMF - An IMF mission is in Bucharest as of today, for an annual assessment of the Romanian economy. Until March 15, the mission, headed by the new IMF chief for Romania, Reza Baqir, will have meetings with central authorities, political parties, trade unions, the business community, the academia and the banking system. The so-called “Article IV” consultation is a compulsory surveillance procedure for all member states. After looking at each national economy, the IMF experts make general recommendations with respect to the monetary, financial and economic policies to be implemented in order to ensure stability and positive economic trends. At present Romania does not have an on-going loan agreement with the IMF.
Corruption probe - Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors Wednesday ordered the prosecution of the former deputy PM Gabriel Oprea for abuse of office. According to the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, in July 2015, then Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and two former chiefs of the directorate for intelligence and domestic protection, also indicted in this case, caused the public budget to lose nearly 92,000 euros. They approved the purchase of a luxury automobile for the protection of high-ranking public officials from the budget of the Interior Ministry, although under the law the Ministry may only purchase vehicles used in the investigation of corruption-related crimes. Gabriel Oprea has also been prosecuted for two other abuse of office offences, in a case file concerning his use of a motorcade. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate initiated the investigation in October 2015, after the death of a police officer in the motorcade that accompanied Oprea.
EU Funds - European Commissioner Corina Creţu is presenting in Bucharest today a project focusing on under-developed regions, which is related to the management of European funds. According to Eurostat, several regions in Romania are among the poorest in the EU. The poorest in the country is the North-East region, with a GDP per capita reaching only 34% of the EU average and which is the fifth poorest in the EU, says the European statistics office. The main factors generating poverty are the absence of jobs and low investment. Other poor regions in Romania are the South-West region (Oltenia), South-Muntenia and North-West. Although affected by poverty, Romania risks losing European funds, because it failed to meet the conditions agreed on with the European Commission. According to data made public by the Ministry for European Funds, Romania is the last in Europe in terms of spending EU funds.
Bacterial Infection - Romanian authorities temporarily closed down a unit of the dairy plant in Arges, southern Romania, which produced the cheese with E. Coli bacteria that some of the babies taken to hospital for digestive infection had eaten. Factory managers say all their products are made in compliance with health and hygiene regulations and do not understand how the bacteria was found in the cheese. Meanwhile, inspectors carry on the investigations, given that another 11 children were admitted to hospitals in the county over the past few hours. Several babies are still under treatment at the Marie Curie hospital in Bucharest. According to the latest data, 45 children are currently receiving in-hospital care for digestive disorders. Three babies diagnosed with haemolytic-uremic syndrome died last month.
Refugee Crisis – The EU is to announce today a financial support plan for the member states facing massive migrant inflows. According to AFP, some of the money is to go to Greece, which has requested 500 million euros to prevent a possible humanitarian disaster caused by the large number of migrants. On the other hand, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, called for solidarity with Greece. The true test of the European community, Tusk said, is, on the one hand, the rebuilding of the passport-free Schengen area, and on the other hand the promptness with which we help Greece at this very difficult time.
US Primaries – The Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton strengthened their position in their respective parties after the primaries held on Tuesday in 12 American states. On the so-called "Super Tuesday", Trump won seven states, whereas his main challenger, Ted Cruz, won a major state, Texas, where he is also a senator, and Oklahoma. On the other hand, Clinton won seven states, too, and her opponent Bernie Sanders came out first in Oklahoma and also in his home state of Vermont. According to France Presse, after “Super Tuesday”, Trump and Clinton are closer to winning their parties’ nomination for the presidential election due later this year.