The Week in Review (10-16 May 2020)

the week in review (10-16 may 2020) Some of the main stories in Romania this week

State of emergency ends and is replaced by state of alert.

The state of emergency imposed in Romania in March to contain the Covid-19 pandemic has ended, being replaced by a state of alert beginning on 15th May and lasting thirty days. The National Committee for Special Emergency Situations, whose chairmanship has been taken over by the prime minister Ludovic Orban, has made public the new regulations that will apply during this period. All activities allowed must comply with measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

People are obliged to wear face masks in shops, on public transport, at work and in other enclosed public spaces. Employees of public institutions and private companies will be working remotely and where this is not possible, they must be subject to epidemiological triage at their places of work. Bars, cafes and restaurants will remain closed, as will shopping centres, with the exception of shops with direct outdoor access. Hotels, dental practices, museums and parks, with the exception of playground areas, are all reopening, and people are now able to move about in their towns or cities without having to sign a written statement in advance stating where they're going and why. They will, however, have to write such a statement if they leave town, which is only permitted for certain reasons. 

Air, road and railway travel is still subject to restrictions. Romanian citizens returning from abroad will be quarantined at their homes, together with their families, and not in an institutional facility, unless they require so. The government has also extended some economic support measures for the duration of the state of alert, such as the furlough scheme and family leave for parents who stay at home with their children until the end of the school year. The persons who are in quarantine or have been infected with Covid-19 have priority when taking medical leave. Doctors will still be allowed to conduct remote consultations and the physical use of the health card is not required for subsidised medicine. Businesses and private individuals will still be able to apply for postponing the payment of bank loans. 

President Klaus Iohannis thanked the people who respected the lockdown measures taken two months ago and emphasised that the most important reform Romania needs right now is the reconstruction of the state. "Healthcare, education, the administration, the sectors ignored and bled dry for so many years must now become our priorities, and the legislation must be drafted in a coherent way so as to allow a rapid intervention in cases of emergency or alert", the president also said. He warned that he would not hesitate to declare a new state of emergency if the situation deteriorates and infections rise fast, leading to an overcrowding of hospitals.

Romania has around 16,500 cases of infections. More than 1,000 people have died and around 10,000 have recovered. 

Chamber of Deputies passes simple no-confidence motion against finance minister

The Chamber of Deputies this week debated and passed a simple no-confidence motion against the Liberal finance minister Florin Cîțu, filed by the Social Democratic Party, the main opposition party in Romania. The Social Democrats say the minister has been incapable of coming up with efficient measures to support the economy. They say that when Cîțu took over, economic growth was rising, the budget deficit was low and public debt was low as a percentage of GDP, but that he has impoverished Romania during his tenure. The minister is also being criticised for the loans made recently by the government. 

Minister Cîțu rejected all accusations and responded by criticising the state of the economy when he took over from the Social Democrats last autumn. He explained that the loans made by the government are for covering the expenses made by the Social Democrats and said that thanks to the decisions taken by his government Romania will recover quickly from the crisis. Cîțu also listed the SME Invest programme to help small and medium sized businesses, the digitalisation of the National Agency for Fiscal Administration and an increase in budget revenues and accused the Social Democrats of using the crisis to block the government's activity.

Romania's economy to shrink this year

As a result of the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Romania's economy is projected to shrink by 4% this year compared with a growth rate of 3.2% forecast in November last year, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Next year, Romania's GDP is projected to grow by 4%. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is the main institutional investor in Romania, with investments of over 8.6 billion euros. The forecast of the European Commission vis-à-vis the Romanian economy looks equally grim, with a drop of 6% being estimated for this year, after many years of robust growth. The International Monetary Fund also expects the Romanian economy to shrink by 5% this year before picking up again next year, when it is projected to grow by 3.9%. (CM)
Publicat: 2020-05-16 13:54:00
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