News review of the day – November 24th

Newly-appointed Foreign and Culture ministers sworn in at Presidential Palace

 The newly-appointed Foreign and Culture ministers, Bogdan Aurescu and Csilla Hegedüs, have been formally sworn in at Cotroceni Palace earlier this evening. The two ministers have occupied secretary-of-state positions in the above-mentioned ministries until today. Prime Minister Victor Ponta had initially nominated ambassador Mihnea Motoc for the Foreign Minister office, but President Traian Basescu pointed out that he needed to be revoked from his position as representative at the European Union by a decree countersigned by the PM who was out of the country at the time.

Cabinet expected to complete state-budget draft by Friday

The state-budget draft bill for 2015 is to be completed by Friday, November 28th, according to minister delegate Darius Vâlcov who has added that the project will be discussed next week with representatives of the European Commission, IMF and World Bank and be sent to the Parliament for debate and voting most likely by December 10th. Darius Vâlcov has underlined the budget draft does not stipulate any tax increase and that European-funds investment is a top priority. The minister also announced a two-stage increase of teachers’ pay for 2015 included in the budget draft.

 Organized-Crime Chief Prosecutor dismissed from office and suspended from magistracy

President Traian Basescu has signed a decree dismissing from office Chief Prosecutor Alina Bica, the head of the Directorate Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), according to a press release by the Presidency. The DIICOT chief resigned on Saturday and is on remand custody for corruption accusations entailing a 62-million-euro damage. The Higher Council of Magistrates has  decided today as well to suspend Alina Bica as prosecutor.

Financial market actors request legislators to boost stock market attractiveness for major investors

Companies and institutions activating on Romania’s financial market have requested today enforcement of legal amendments meant to boost market attractiveness for major investors. Managers of Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) expressed their wish to step up from a high-risk market status to an emerging market with a lower risk status, but several technical and legal deadlocks need to be overcome first.

Vice-President of the Financial Supervisory Authority, Mircea Ursache, has stated at a National Conference of Capital Market today he is convinced these measures will be adopted shortly.

Mircea Ursache: I’m not only confident that this is possible, but I also believe this is necessary as these are significant matters. It all depends on this normative act which stipulates, among other things, elimination of certain barriers and certain thresholds that are in absolute discrepancy with European standards.

 Delay of gas price liberalization for industrial consumers needs approval from the EC

 Several companies in the energy sector in Romania have requested a delay of gas price liberalization for industrial consumers whereas the Energy Department has issued a press release saying this decision needed approval from the European Commission. Gas price for industrial consumers is expected to rise again starting January 1st 2015 according to a liberalization schedule agreed with IMF and EC whilst a similar time schedule for household consumers has been put on hold for the next two years. Given this context, president of the relevant committee in the Chamber of Deputies, Iulian Iancu, has requested the Cabinet to intervene and sort out the occurring inconsistencies. Mr Iancu has underlined the fact that, following a rise in gas price for industrial consumers, the households connected to public central heating systems would be bound to pay higher bills than those with individual gas heating systems.

 Romanian Meat Industry Association requests Parliament to cut VAT down to 5 percent

 The Romanian Meat Industry Association (ARC) has requested the Parliament to cut VAT for meat products down to 5 percent in an open letter sent to the Senate and lower chamber’s Speakers. The association is thus asking for a draft bill meant to amend the Fiscal Code. According to a press release issued yesterday, the legal initiative has been registered at the Chamber of Deputies since March 10th. ARC argued that the current VAT quota, namely 24 percent, would encourage tax avoidance and unfair competition. From its data, tax avoidance reaches nearly 13 billion euros every year which means 75 percent of the total tax income due to the state budget.

 Servicemen killed in helicopter accident commemorated in the Senate and in military bases

 All Romanian military bases over the country and abroad have commemorated this morning the death of eight servicemen who lost their lives on Friday in a helicopter accident in Sibiu county. The Senators observed a minute’s silence before session today and the Defense Ministry has held a military and religious service as well. Four days ago, a military helicopter heading for a mission at Cincu aiming-field in Brasov crashed killing eight crew members in the explosion. The pilot and another officer managed to survive but they are still in critical condition undergoing graft surgeries in a burn center hospital in Bucharest.

Romanian state owes 200 million euros to hospitals abroad

The Romanian state owes more than 200 million euros to clinics abroad. Last year only, over 1,000 Romanian nationals have chosen to receive treatment in hospitals around European Union based on a S2 form (former E112) which entitles them to benefit from state-funded treatments in another EU/EEA country. The debt level reached 212 million euros this year out of which 67 million only have been paid to foreign health-service providers. Germany is the first among countries that Romanians chose for treatment followed by Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Hungary.

UNICEF Romania launches study on poor investment in public education system

UNICEF Romania has launched a study today called „The cost of poor investment in education” carried on alongside education authorities in our country and pointing out the need of higher funding of the national education system. Education minister Remus Pricopie has attended the launch event and stated that his ministry will try to increase teachers’ pay in two stages in 2015. According to a UNICEF analysis released this summer, almost half of Romanian schools face adverse budgets to their needs and the UN body recommends a funding system capable to boost quality of public education and to stimulate progress in preventing school dropouts.

 Cancer patients in Romania to benefit from a new custom treatment

 Cancer patients in Romania could shortly benefit from a new custom treatment. The so-called „telocytes” – TC cells discovered by a group of professors conducted by Romanian Laurenţiu M. Popescu are now the base for a new treatment approach that helps organs regenerate. The method presented today at „Victor Babeş” Research and Development Institute in Bucharest will allow establishing an individual course of oncological treatment based on medical records of each patient.

Carmen Ardeleanu, researcher at Victor Babeş Institute, explained: The Perso THER project allowed us to introduce new methods of molecular biology within cancer therapies that enable customization for individual needs. Cancer patients will no longer have to follow the same course of chemo or radiation therapy, but they will benefit from a customized treatment.

 Gaudeamus International Book Fair establishes new records

Gaudeamus International Book Fair organized by Radio Romania closed its gates last night at Romexpo Exhibition Center in Bucharest. This year’s edition has established several records: 116.000 visitors in five days and 750 events hosted throughout the fair. Trophies and awards of Gaudeamus fair were presented on the last day of the event. The most wanted book of the fair was the volume „Step by step”, an autobiography signed by Romania’s President-elect Klaus Iohannis. An excellence award was received by the 90-year old translator Antoaneta Ralian for her 120th book, translated from English, „The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde published at Humanitas Publishing House.

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