News review of the day – March 5th

Romania’s Ombudsman extends investigation on prison living conditions to all detention centres

Romania’s Ombudsman has decided to extend an investigation regarding living conditions in prisons started this late January to all detention and arrest centres in the country, monitoring human rights abidance. A report on the matter is going to be forwarded to the Parliament and the Cabinet suggesting possible legal or other solutions to improve confinement procedures. Yesterday, Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea announced he was notified ex officio and started an investigation in two detention centres in Cluj Napoca and Bucharest following complaints by former minister Monica Iacob Ridzi convicted to 5 years in prison for corruption matters. Another former minister, Elena Udrea, placed under investigation in remand custody, complained about harsh conditions in the police arrest and even offered to refurbish the precinct at her expense.

Net investment in Romania’s economy – down by 3.1 percent last year against 2013

Net investment in national economy has dropped by 3.1 percent last year against 2013, according to preliminary data published today by the National Institute of Statistics. A turning point was registered in the final quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, when investment registered a 3-percent advance. Last year, investment in new construction works have summed 30 billion Ron and those in machinery and means of transport numbered almost 27 billion. However, Prime Minister Victor Ponta wrote on his Twitter account that statistical data acknowledge a growing trend for investment in Romania’s economy.

Finance Minister: Fiscal Code project aimed to support business development and reveal under the counter jobs

Finance Minister Darius Valcov has declared that the new Fiscal Code is aimed to support business development, reveal under the counter jobs and create new ones. During a debate on this matter, the minister also said that fiscal strategy may be changed by 2020 depending on business environment’s evolution:
Darius Vâlcov: This project is aimed to relieve economic agents from this pressure and, in five years time, assess the development of these companies and be able to re-think the fiscal system for 2020-2030, but we should first see upgraded businesses heading towards further growth and development.
The Finance Minister has also approached the flat tax matter and said its replacement with a progressive income-tax system is not achievable over the next two years due to technical shortcomings that would be incurred on the National Agency for Fiscal Administration.

Electoral Code commission endorsed changes in the elections procedure

Several legal initiatives regarding local elections, political-party and electoral-campaign funding as well as setting up political parties have been endorsed by the relevant parliamentary commision drafting the Electoral Code. According to the approved documents, mayors are to be elected in a single-round system and all expenses for the electoral process are to be covered from the state budget. County council presidents are going to be elected with simple majority voting by the council members. It will be allowed to set up a political party with only three members whilst electoral campaigns are to be financed from the state budget for those parties reaching the 3 percent threshold in the elections. The documents are now going to the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies for possible amendments.

Project meant to create half-million-acre protected area launched into debate

A project meant to create a half-million-acre natural protected area in three Romanian counties – Mureş, Sibiu and Braşov – has been launched today into public debate. This would be the second largest after the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. The region is aiming to be dubbed „the most attractive multicultural rural traditional landscape in Europe” and comprises seven sites of European interest, three natural protected areas of national interest with small Saxon villages and fortified churches, some of them included in the UNESCO cultural heritage.
The authorities have come up with a complex management plan that was presented today in the city of Brasov and will be subject to public debate. Should this project be implemented, communties in Hârtibaciu-Târnava Mare-Olt area would live preserving the region’s cultural values and using natural resources in the area.

National currency reaches all-time record low against the US dollar

The national currency value has reached a new record low against the US dollar with a 0.47 percent decrease compared to yesterday’s rate. The Central Bank has communicated a 4.0228 exchange rate for the Romanian leu against the dollar. On the other hand, the Romanian currency has gained 0.88 units against the Euro reaching a 4.4454 exchange rate. The Ron has seen a slight 0.63 appreciation against the Swiss franc as well compared to Tuesday’s rate.

Cold weather, rainfall and snow warnings for the most part of Romania

The weather is getting cold starting today all over Romania. A yellow code warning has been issued starting 1 PM for all southwestern counties and the ones within the Carpathian arc, but it will be extended to the south on Friday. Another yellow code warning for floods is going to be activated tomorrow on most of the rivers in Caraş-Severin, Timiş, Mehedinţi, Gorj and Dolj counties.

Bianca Ioniţă