The Romanian government approves new budget adjustment
The government has approved its second budget adjustment this year. According to finance minister Anca Dragu, this is a positive adjustment and reflects the efficient way in which public money was spent, as well as the economic growth. The adjustment mainly targeted the healthcare sector, investments, direct payments in agriculture and support for a number of policies and projects in the field of education and social assistance funded by the local public administration. The adjustment was aimed at redistributing funds that can no longer be spent by the end of the year to provide funding for other ongoing programmes, while maintaining the macroeconomic balance and the budget deficit below 3% of the GDP.
Anticorruption prosecutors investigate former ministers and directors of Microsoft Romania
Three former ministers are under criminal investigation in the so-called Microsoft 2 case, which caused damages of 67 million euros. Investigations look at the rental of Microsoft licences for schools starting in 2004. Dan Nica, a communications and IT minister between 2000 and 2004, Silvia Adriana Ticau, a secretary of state and then communications and IT minister in the 2003-2003 period and Alexandru Athanasiu, education and research minister between 2003 and 2005, are investigated for abuse of office. All three are accused of initiating, approving and endorsing government decisions approving the signing of a rental contract for Microsoft licences with Fujitsu Siemens, a company owned by the businessman Claudiu Florica, without a justified need. Two former directors of Microsoft Romania and Claudiu Florica are also under investigation. Prosecutors say Fujitsu Siemens purchased the licence rental from Microsoft and sold it to the government at an overvalued cost. The difference in price was split between those involved in this extremely lucrative transaction. As part of the same case, the National Anticorruption Directorate has also requested the start of criminal prosecution against the MP Eugen Bejinariu, a former government secretary general in 2003 and 2004, who is accused of aggravated abuse of office.
The Romanian economy gets better World Bank rating
The World Bank has improved its forecast on the advance of the Romanian economy in 2016, up to 5.1% from the 4% estimated in June. However, the World Bank has pointed out that Romania’s growth pace will slow down to 3.8% in 2017, and 3.4% a year later. The consolidated budget deficit is to deepen close to 3% of the GDP both in 2016 and 2017, from 1.5% of the GDP in 2015, which will lead to higher public debt. The Romanian government is advised to keep under control current spending pressures and improve tax collection in order to avoid the activation of the excessive deficit procedure. The IMF’s recent forecasts also indicate that Romania will this year see the biggest economic growth in Europe, with 5%, followed by Ireland with 4.9%. In early November the European Commission revised up to 5.2% its forecast for Romania’s growth this year.
Romanian Foreign Minister pays formal visit to Italy
Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu held talks in Rome with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni. High on the agenda were bilateral relations, Europe’s future after Brexit, migration, the situation in the Republic of Moldova in the wake of the presidential election and the relations with the Russian Federation. The two high officials have highlighted the privileged relations between Romania and Italy based on a strengthened strategic partnership as well as the need for a deep cooperation to contribute to the consolidation of the European project. Both Lazar Comanescu and Paolo Gentiloni have also tackled the issue of the Romanian community in Italy, which is well integrated, and about the Italian business community, which is very active in Romania. According to the Italian Foreign Minister, over 25,000 Italian companies are doing business in Romania.
The law on national defence industry has been promulgated in Romania
Romanian president Klaus Iohannis has promulgated the law on national defence industry. The bill, which was passed by the Senate last week, is regulating the activity of this sector according to strategic activities, to achieve the streamlining and regrouping of capabilities, boosting investment and competitiveness, diversifying products specific to the field and the participation in the activities of the European defence industry. Romania’s spending in this field rose by half a billion dollars in 2016 as compared to 2009. With 1.48% of the GDP allotted for defence, the country comes third in a ranking on how much NATO countries spend in order to train and equip their armed forces. Following political consultations, Klaus Iohannis has obtained an agreement under which the defence sector will be earmarked a minimum 2% of the GDP in 2017. Only five EU members have so far met this NATO objective.