Monday, November 21, 2016

Former Education Minister Alexandru Athanasiu to be heard in the Microsoft scandal

Former Education Minister Alexandru Athanasiu reported at the headquarters of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) on Monday to be heard in the „Microsoft 2” case. Before the hearing, Alexandru Athanasiu claimed he is innocent and that he never took bribes. He insisted he had signed no particular contract other than a government decision which granted free licenses for computers in schools, due to which the Education Ministry received over 100,000 free licenses for computers in schools. The DNA is also hearing Claudiu Florică, a businessman involved in the same Microsoft scandal. Previously, Silviu Hotăran, former director of Microsoft Romania, was indicted by prosecutors on corruption charges. Ovidiu Artopolescu, former Microsoft CEO, is also indicted in the same case. Till now the following persons received a final imprisonment sentence: former Communications Minister Gabriel Sandu, former mayor Gheorghe Stefan and businessmen Dumitru Nicolae and Dorin Cocos. There is, however, a subfile to the Microsoft case, which involves several ex-ministers. In this case the investigation continues – as DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi recently declared.

The Romanian Government to approve the second budget amendment this year

This week, the Romanian government is to approve the second budget amendment of the year. Healthcare, development and agriculture are the sectors to receive the most money for proper funding of ongoing projects. Over two billion lei will be spent on continued treatment of patients with liver cirrhosis in various stages of the disease. The infrastructure of schools and roads will also benefit from substantial investments after the budget correction. The pilot program ‘A Hot Meal at School’ will be allotted 15 mil. lei, and the program ‘Fruit for the Schools’ will be granted four mil. lei. One billion lei will be directed to final payments to farmers, and local budgets will receive 1.7 billion to cover the expenditures of local authorities. The Ministry of Labour will also benefit from the additional funds, in order to cover social assistance needs. The defense and the domestic affairs sectors will be additionally funded to ensure certain categories of military pensions, and the Ministry of Energy will receive financial support for the closure of two mines in the Hunedoara Energy Complex. The government revenue and costs will grow by comparable amounts so as not to exceed a budget deficit of 3% of GDP, said the Ministry of Finance.

Looking back on the Gaudeamus International Book Fair

On Sunday evening the curtain came down on the Gaudeamus International Book Fair, organized by Radio Romania. This year’s edition hosted hundreds of cultural events, to the delight of the one hundred thousand-odd visitors. The „Harry Potter” series received the „Most Wanted Book” Trophy, and the public vote went to Humanitas, Rao and Nemira publishers, in this order. The Excellence Award was granted to Tracus Arts Publishing House, for their support of contemporary Romanian literature. For five days, over three hundred exhibitors displayed their production, and there were more than 850 events that ran in parallel. Honorary chairman of the Gaudeamus International Book Fair, Vice-Rector of the University of Bucharest, Professor Liviu Papadima, said: „At the opening there were many, many young people. Now I can see more adults, perhaps because of these very intense days that led to a maturation of the public. Yes, they were really very intense days. Many congratulations to Radio Romania, for their consistency in running this wonderful cultural initiative for many years now.” The Guest of Honour at the 23rd edition of the Gaudeamus International Book Fair was China, the first country outside Europe to attend the event. At next year’s edition, the role of guest of honor of the Gaudeamus Book Fair will fall to the United States of America./mbaciu