UNIONS – The “Solidaritatea Sanitara” union federation announces its opposition to the Government’s plan to transfer the payment of social security contributions from employers to employees, and says it will join the all-out strike planned by the country’s main union confederations. Previously, trade union federations Frăţia, Cartel Alfa and National Union Bloc had voiced fears that this transfer would entail a drop in salaries and the loss of jobs. In turn, employer associations say that should this measure be implemented, they will have to lay off employees, while the National Liberal Party in opposition announced it would notify the Constitutional Court unless the Government gave up these plans. President Klaus Iohannis described the Government’s initiative as fiscal confusion through which average gross salaries would only go up by a rough 70 eurocents. In response, PM Mihai Tudose and his Social Democratic Party chief, Liviu Dragnea, say they do not understand the opposition to the measures announced for next year, given that in fact both employers and employees would stand to gain. The Cabinet postponed to Monday the meeting in which the new provisions were to be discussed, on grounds that some of the bills on the agenda had not received all the required approvals.
BY-ELECTIONS – The town of Deva, in western Romania, as well as 16 villages in 12 counties are preparing for Sunday’s by-elections. 16 localities will elect their mayors tomorrow, and a village will elect its local council. In Deva, the mayor position has been vacant since the former mayor, Mircia Muntean, re-elected to office last summer, was sentenced to six months in prison for abuse of office and DUI.
HEALTHCARE – The Romanian healthcare and tourism ministries will work together to come up with medical tourism packages. The announcement was made by the Healthcare Minister Florian Bodog at a medical tourism conference in Bucharest. The healthcare services in the highest demand from foreign patients in Romania are dental treatments, spa treatments, and plastic surgery, Bodog explained. He added that the Government is working to adopt the public-private partnership bill, which will allow foreign partners to invest in Romania, including in the healthcare sector. The Romanian official added that he had already received offers from foreign investors interested in setting up hospitals and cardiovascular surgery and recovery centres.
CAMPAIGN - MEP Cătălin Ivan has announced he intends to start a signature campaign to ban bearer shares in Romania. Such shares, which are not registered, may be transferred from one holder to another without tax and accounting records. Ivan argues that this enables civil servants to own stock in companies that are awarded public procurement or service contracts, without any means of combating corruption. According to official data there are around 400 companies in Romania having issued bearer shares, and most of their have been awarded government contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros. Bearer shares have already been banned in countries like the UK, Belgium, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Malta and Cyprus.
PUIGDEMONT – Belgian authorities announced having received the international arrest warrant issued by Spain against the ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and 4 members of his secessionist cabinet. The source added that prosecutors would study the documents before submitting them to a judge. The five Catalan ministers arrived in Brussels this week, after Spain issued an arrest warrant for sedition. Puigdemont insists that he is not in Belgium to escape justice, and that he is facing a potential 30-year prison sentence for keeping his promise to his voters. A Spanish court approved the arrest after the five failed to appear in court on Thursday to respond to accusations regarding the Catalan independence declaration. Before the arrest warrants were issued, the European Commission said the trial of the Catalan separatists was for the judiciary to settle.
HANDBALL – The Romanian women’s handball team CSM Bucharest is playing this afternoon at home against the Danish side Nykobing, in the 4th round of Champions League Group A. Two weeks ago, CSM lost surprisingly in Denmark, 22-25. In the first 2 games in Group A, the Romanians defeated Krim Ljubljana of Slovenia and Vistal Gdynia of Poland. The top 2 teams in each of the 4 groups will qualify into the main group stage. Romania’s target in the current competition season is to reach the Champions League Final Four. Also today, in men’s handball, Romania’s champions Dinamo Bucharest play away from home against Ademar Leon of Spain. Dinamo ranks last in Group C, and is left with next to no chances to move on in the competition.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)