News review of the day – Tuesday, June 2nd

Prime Minister Victor Ponta addressed the Parliament on Romania’s current state of economy

PM Victor Ponta has taken the floor in front of the Parliament today during the monthly „Prime Minister’s Hour” talking about Romania’s current state of economy, achievements and underlying challenges:

Dear Members of the House of  Deputies,

Thank you for inviting me to present here – as it is only natural for any Cabinet and any democratic Parliament – Romania’s current state of economy, its short-term and medium-term perspectives and, of course, the challenges it may confront itself with in the future. I would like to begin by congratulating you for the amendments brought to the regulation of the lower chamber. I consider the idea of the PM coming here every month and the ministers coming every week to take responsibility for their actions as extremely good, extremely normal for the relationship between the Government and the Parliament. I will always stand for the Parliament as the ruling body, as the body in control of the Government for as long as I will be Prime Minister and after that as well; I will stand for the Parliament as a fundamental institution that nobody is entitled to give lessons to or demonise and without which we will never have true democracy in Romania.
Back to my presentation now, I think it is extremely important to know exactly where we stand halfway through 2015; and in order to avoid presenting my opinions or those of my Cabinet ministers exclusively, I will begin by quoting the Central Bank’s Governor, a quote that I obviously consider very important: „The present economic growth is not only vigorous, but judging by current standards, on a European level, is also sustainable”. And I think the Governor would like to address some of our collegues here on the right; lest our forecast is wrong, it will be a durable growth again. This means Romania is now on a very good track where all the economic and social ruin of 2010 and 2011 has been overcome but we must keep up with this rythm and these trends.
According to official data by Eurostat, Romania has registered an average 3 % growth over the last years and a 4.2% growth of the GDP in the first quarter of 2015. We are finally situated first for a good reason, for a significant reason and this is the economic growth in EU’s 28 member states. Besides, this growth has influenced the official forecast data by the European Commission and the IMF and my wish for my Cabinet and for you, dear collegues, is to be able to state at the end of this mandate, in 2016, that we have been members of the Government and of the Parliament during four years of straight economic growth after Romania’s darkest period in this respect: 2010-2012.
I would like to thank all members of the Social Liberal Union (USL) for these achievements, to all those who have backed the governing program, to all those who have been faithful to the vote they had asked and received from the electors in 2012. Most importantly, these achievements came after economic downturn and recession. It’s been three years now and I hope there will be four or five years of economic growth. It is also important to mention this growth is not based on conjunctural elements but on internal and external thrusters – internal consumption, exports, an increase coming from industries and services and this year we also have a significant growth coming from the constructions sector which we need to continue to back up.
An economic growth rate of over 3%, of 4%, is now becoming a possible goal. I want to thank the Parliament and the ministers that have answered in turn for each sector, for clearing the way and restoring things after the worst heritage we had, which was: European funds blocked completely, suspension of all programs, a 7% absorption rate; this year we can finalize the 2007-2013 financial exercise with a 65-80% absorption rate.
And most importantly, as you know, we already have the Partnership Agreement and most of the Operational Programmes approved by the European Commissiom. 2015 has started with a significant increase in foreign direct investment (FDI).
Mr Speaker, I am trying not to exceed my alloted five-minute time.
Speaker Valeriu Zgonea: If you please.
Victor Ponta: If I had been in the Boc Cabinet, I would have finished in one minute, as I wouldn’t have had much to say. Being, however, the chief of the USL Cabinet, there are many positive things to say and I would like to tell you that we have almost completely repaid the loan our collegues in the Democratic Liberal Party had contracted and spent, that we have complied with the deficit targets agreed with international creditors every time, that we are now after four months…All I can ultimately do is ask you to bear in mind that, with your help, we can keep up with these results.
I am glad to be in front of the Parliament one day after the coming into force of the VAT cut on all food products down to 9% and the increase of child benefits to double – two extremely important measures. One proposed by the Cabinet and endorsed by the Parliament, the other one proposed and endorsed by the Parliament and implemented by the Cabinet. So, the result of very good co-operation and I thank you for this. At the same time, it is crucial for the upcoming period – and I now address the House of Deputies – that we approve the new Fiscal Code with all  included measures, to implement all amendments and investment projects included in the Transport Master Plan and I call for supporting us by endorsement of the new Public Procurement Package.
There is a very positive perspective and there are three challenges that is my duty to present in front of  the Parliament.
First of all, populism, which is unfortunately being used as the only weapon against a thirving economy.

Second of all, political instability – and I am convinced this Parliament and this Cabinet will bring the governing program to a successful conclusion to help stabilize economic life and make it predictable.

An third of all, regional tensions – that we can prevent or get ready for by working together – Parliament, Cabinet, Central Bank, Presidency, business environment, trade unions – we should all get Romania ready to cope with any negative effects of a possible regional crisis.

Thank you and I want to reiterate my wish for us to carry out together this mandate with a four-year economic growth, with four years of lower unemployment rate, four years of increases in salaries and pensions; I would like to thank you for this and I am also sure people are going to appreciate this activity. Thank you very much indeed and I am ready to take your questions.
Speaker Valeriu Zgonea: Thank you very much.

Heir to the British throne establishes educational foundation in Romania

HRH Prince Charles of Wales, heir to the British throne, who is on a private visit to Transylvania, has announced earlier today the establishment of The Prince of Wales’ Foundation in Romania, interested in educational activities supporting national heritage, agriculture and sustainable development. The headquarters will be located in Viscri village in Braşov County, on the estate recently purchased by another foundation of Prince Charles, located in the UK. The newly set-up foundation will renovate and turn the Viscri estate into a training center. A new conference room will be able to accommodate meetings of 70 people. The foundation is going to be coordinated by a board designated by Prince Charles, Hungarian news agency MTI quoted by Rador reported.

Young Romanians some of the most inclined to spend on clothing, footwear and accessories

Young Romanians are some of the most inclined to spend on clothing, footwear and accessories, being surpassed in Eastern and Central Europe only by Austrians. Romanians aged 14 to 25 allot 33 euros every month for this kind of spendings, considerably more than the regional average, according to results of a study conducted by IMAS International commissioned by Erste Group. Young people in Romania also stand out in data regarding mobile phones, coming second after Austrians as well and concerning percentage of those who own a smartphone even from the age of 17 to 19. However, saving money is an increasing trend in Romania, according to the same study. Since the start of the year, saving accounts have multiplied by more than a third against the same period in 2014 and almost 30% of people who save up say they are doing it for their children’s future – a percentage which slightly surpasses the European average, Radio Romania reported.

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