INFLATION The year-on-year inflation rate in Romania went up to
13.76% in April this year, as against 10.15% in March, according to data made
public today by the National Statistics Institute. Non-food prices rose by
16.35%, foodstuff prices by 13.54%, and services are 7.11% more expensive.
Yesterday, in order to curb the inflation rise, the central bank announced a
new increase in the key interest rate, which will trigger a rise in consumer
and inter-bank loan interests. The National Bank of Romania expects the
inflation rate to surge this summer more than previously forecast, and says the
rate is not likely to return to under 10% until the second half of next year.
VISIT The Speaker of the Senate of Romania, Florin Cîţu, is on an
official visit to Poland today, at the invitation of his counterpart, Tomasz
Grodzki. The main topics on the agenda are opportunities to consolidate
bilateral relations between the 2 countries, the war in Ukraine and the
economic fallout of the Russian aggression. Florin Citu announced that after
his visit to Poland he will travel to the Republic of Moldova.
DIPLOMACY The Romanian foreign minister
Bogdan Aurescu takes part today in a ministerial meeting of the Global
Coalition against Daesh, held in Marrakesh, Morocco. According to the ministry,
the meeting will be co-chaired by the USA and Morocco, with over 75
representatives of the member states and international organisations expected
to attend. Most member states are NATO and EU members, partner states in the
Western Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, as well as the EU, NATO, and
INTERPOL. The main topics will include the security
situation in Iraq and Syria, as well as terrorism-related developments in
Africa and Afghanistan. Bogdan
Aurescu will highlight Romania's contribution as a Coalition member, including
its participation since 2016 both in the Coalition Forces (as part of Operation
Inherent Resolve and of the NATO mission in Iraq), and in the stabilisation and
reconstruction efforts in the countries affected by ISIS activities.
GOVERNMENT A draft emergency order to prevent
speculation is being discussed today by the government of Romania. The decision
comes after fuel, sunflower oil or masks and disinfectant prices skyrocketed
overnight, in the context of the war in Ukraine or before that, during the
pandemic. Speculation was criminalised before in Romania, shortly after WWII
and after the fall of the communist regime in 1990.
GAS A bill to amend
the Offshore Act, which will green light the development of natural gas
reserves in the Black Sea, is discussed as of today by the Senate of Romania.
According to the ruling coalition, which has tabled the bill, this is a much
more balanced text than the one drafted 4 years ago. Tax facilities have been
introduced for the companies interested in taking part in the development
project, and in a few years' time Romania's reliance on Russian gas is expected
to become significantly lower. The energy minister Virgil Popescu emphasised
that by amending the current legislation onshore investments will also be
encouraged, supply security will be ensured in case of an energy crisis and
Romania may become a provider of regional energy security. Under the bill, the
Romanian government will have pre-emptive rights in purchasing the natural gas.
Romania's biggest public natural gas producer, Romgaz, and the Austrian
company OMV will extract the natural gas in the Black Sea in the coming years.
COVID-19 The 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose will be available on
request in Romania, in vaccination centres and family physician practices, as
of May 16. According to the health ministry, only Pfiser vaccines can be
administered, to people over 18 who have received 3 doses of mRNA vaccines, and
at least 4 months after they have received the 3rd dose. Meanwhile, the
health ministry announced 705 new COVID-19 cases and 7 related deaths in 24
hours. 144 COVID patients are currently in intensive care.
UKRAINE The president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky
commented on the situation in Kharkiv, emphasising that the Ukrainian forces
are repelling the invaders and freeing the region. Clashes continue on the
Serpent Island as well, 45 km from Romania, with Russia trying to strengthen
its vulnerable garrison on the island. Meanwhile, Ukraine has shut off the
transit of Russian gas to Western Europe in Lugansk region, and says the
occupation of its eastern part by Russian forces makes it impossible to control
the flows. Over 32 million cubic metres of natural gas are halted, accounting
for around one-third of Russia's daily exports transiting Ukraine. In the US,
the House of Representatives approved an additional 40 billion US dollars in
aid for Ukraine. The act is to be rushed through the Senate and signed by
president Joe Biden. The funds will be used for military support and humanitarian
assistance for the civilians affected by the Russian invasion. (AMP)