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What the newspapers say: February 19, 2009

de Radu Rizea     HotNews.ro
Joi, 19 februarie 2009, 9:56 English | Press Review

The bankers say that one third  of their branches should be shut down, international financial institutions and governments point at Romania as the new center of the sub-prime crisis, but the Romanian Central Bank and the Government remain optimistic. Prime Minister Boc may be too busy with the lawsuit opened against him by the former PM, Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

The banking system developed too fast, says Laszlo Diosi, general manager of OTP Bank, quoted by Evenimentul Zilei and most other newspapers. "One third of the branched should be shut down. While it is true that we have some bank three branches for each 10,000 inhabitants, which is near the European average, one must also consider the GDP", said Diosi.

A new scandal is about to burst in the civil society, after the judges decided at the beginning of the week to restrict the access to their professional files. Prosecutors and judges will have their past protected from the eye of the media, the newspapers comment. According to Evenimentul Zilei, three important non-governmental organizations challenge the decision and say the files should remain public.

The crime rate in Italy may succeed where the crisis and the economic programs of the Romanian government failed: immigrants working in Italy may soon return home. The excessive media coverage on crimes  committed by Romanians makes employers refuse to offer any more jobs, even to honest, hard-working Romanians. The employment ads already include the "except Romanians" phrase and even housekeepers begun to lose their jobs. "For criminals returning from Italy, we have an "Welcome Home" program", says Interior Minister Dan Nica, according to Gandul.

In business, the recent fall on the East-European stock markets made several financial institutions consider that Romania is the center of the new sub-prime crisis region and predict a further economic drop in the following years. Central Bank (BNR) Governor Mugur Isarescu has contradicted the evaluation agencies, saying they make their considerations on a regional level, while Romania is doing somewhat better than her neighbors.

Moody's analysis emphasizes that the vulnerability - for all countries, including Romania - comes from the exposure to the Western slow-down, the excessive fiscal deficits and the decrease of assets' value, Cotidianul reads.

Finally, in politics, former Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu sued PM Emil Boc for his statements about the contract between Romania and Sterling Resources, which changed from exploration into exploitation right in the Black Sea during the last few days of the Tariceanu Government. Tariceanu considers that Boc made slandering statements and claims that the entire scandal was put up just to distract the attention from the incapacity of the current government to manage its problems, Cotidianul reads.


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