News review of the day – November 23rd

Head of Financial Stability  in the Central Bank: „Balance inquiry fee is immoral”

New European regulations may see banks forced to drop certain commission charges, including balance inquiry fees at the ATMs. The highest impact will clearly favor clients and economic agents as interchange fees are being reduced from 1% to 0.2% for debit cards and to 0.3% for credit cards.
The Central Bank is supervising deployment of these measures and is going to consult the banks but it will ultimately apply sanctions where regulations fail to be complied with.

Head of Financial Stability  Department of the Central Bank Ruxandra Avram says the new framework forces banks to keep their clients in better regard lest they lose them.

Ruxandra Avram: I find it abnormal, at least where debit cards are concerned, to be charged with a balance inquiry fee. This fee is immoral.

On the other hand, banking environment places its stake on electronic payment as an instrument to fight tax evasion. The more electronic payments are used in a country’s economy, the more they reduce grey economy. Romania has the lowest percentage of electronic payments against cash payments and the highest rate of grey economy, estimted at 30%. The largest card companies operating on our market say they have struggled for the last four years to introduce electronic payment for taxes but the project is dragging on due to continual replacement of high officials in the Finance Ministry.

Cost of card payments will go down starting December 9th following new European banking regulations. Romania’s Central Bank will see to their deployment and apply possible sanctions.

Report on issues affecting life of immigrants in Romania

Institutional bureaucracy, the lack of transparency, slow communication and illegitimacies regarding lease agreements and employment contracts are the main issues directly affecting immigrants in Romania, according to a report carried out with European financing. The study also analyzed discrimination issues but these seemed to not have been perceived as major obstacles in social relations by foreigners interviewed during the survey.

Project coordinator Luciana Lăzărescu: There are other issues having to do ultimately with the system structure. We are talking about a void of information that needs to be brought to their attention in a relevant and comprehensible manner as these foreigners do not always speak Romanian well enough to be able to understand the public information on institutional websites. We are also talking about bureaucracy of the system and about them failing to understand the way Romanian institutions work.

Project initiators recommend public institutions and authorites to carry out language tests while job recruting and to provide training programs regarding rights and obligations for immigrants. They also consider more effective mechanisms are needed to signal abuse cases between state institutions and relevant NGOs.

Romania has the highest number of houseowners compared to other EU countries

Romania is the country with the highest number of houseowners in the EU, way above the Union’s average. However, more than half of Romania’s population lives in overcrowded households, according to data by Eurostat, which indicate this exceeds by far the 17% European averag. More than 96% of Romanians live in their self-owned property compared to only 70%, in average, in the European Union. Tenants percentage in Romania is lower than 4% whilst Germany or Austria have 40% of the population living in rented households. One third of the people in UK, France, Denmark or the Netherlands live in a rented house as well. The same Eurostat data show that two thirds of the Romanians live in independent houses and nearly 35% in flats.

Colectiv club fire death toll rose to 60 victims

Death toll after the club fire tragedy in Bucharest on October 30 rose to 60 victims yesterday, after a young man aged 19 passed away in a clinic in Vienna, where he had been transferred on November 7th with severe burns on 60% of his body. Alexandru Hogea was a freshman of the Politehnica University in Bucharest where he was studying Computer Science. According to the Health Ministry, 27 Romanian patients are currently receiving medical care in hospitals abroad and 40 other injured are being treated in Bucharest. 10 persons are still in critical condition, Radio Romania reported.

Gaudeamus International Book Fair in Bucharest received 125.000 visitors

This year’s edition of Gaudeamus International Book Fair in Bucharest, organized by Radi Romania, came to an end on Sunday summing up 125.000 visitors, more than 300 exhibitors and 700 events. Several trophies have been awarded to publishing houses chosen by the public: Humanitas, RAO and Nemira. The prize for the most longed-for book of the fair – „The Lost Bible” by Igor Bergler – was awarded to Nemira Publishing. The excellence award was received by Cartier Publishing which alongside other publishing houses in Chisinau supports the book market in both Romania and the Republic of Moldova. The Education Prize this year went to The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Radio Romania reported.

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