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What the newspapers say: December 13, 2006

Miercuri, 13 decembrie 2006, 0:00

Good news is bad news in Romania, or at least that’s how it looks. Strong currency, lots of cash entering the country, huge funds, low inflation should all be good signs for a strong economy. Well, it seems things are far from being healthy and the best sign is the Health Ministry, where money won’t be spent because of a recent Parliamentarian embargo on some funds.

The Romanian currency, Leu (RON), may end the year as the most rewarding investment, according to Bloomberg. RON was in top on Monday but fell to the second place on Tuesday. A foreign investor who would have deposited 1,000 dollars in a Romanian bank in 2004 would withdraw some 1,500 today, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

“The Little Sicily in Baneasa” is the title of an excellent piece of investigative journalism published in the same newspaper. Two reporters found a piece of luxury terrain in the Northern Bucharest, bought after a series of commercial “engineering” by some controversial Italian investors, one of them member of the feared Sacra Corona Unita.
The piece of land now works in favor of a small, but powerful group that includes football boss Mitica Dragomir (aka Corleone), Elena Stolojan, a former tourism boss investigated for corruption, as well as former foreign intelligence officers (Evenimentul Zilei).

Russia finally decided to punish Romania for joining the EU: Romanian pork meat is banned. “We demand each EU country to guarantee they would not re-export Romanian or Bulgarian meat to Russia”, said Serghe Dankvert, the Russian Agriculture Minister, according to Romania Libera.

Still, the road to EU has no U-turns. Romanian commissioner Leonard Orban was accepted yesterday by the European Parliamentarians, along with the Bulgarian candidate, Meglena Kuneva, with a huge majority, Romania Libera reads.

In Bucharest, at the same time, the former candidate for the commissioner seat, Varujan Vosganian, was accepted by the Parliament as Economy Minister, with 288 votes for and 66 against, Gandul informs.

Meanwhile, president Basescu was visiting the Cernavoda nuclear plant, where the second reactor is scheduled to come into use in some 8 months. For the next two reactors, Basescu counts on private investments, since “the State has a lot to spend on”, Gandul reads.

The bad news came from the constructions field: new constructions will be more and more expensive, in order to increase the workers’ wages. With millions working abroad, construction workers have no reason to stay in Romania and earn next to nothing.

A growth of at least 10% in the final price of new constructions is expected in 2007, according to Gandul.

Well, working abroad seems to be worth even on the black market: illegal Romanian workers sent home some 3 billion euros during the first 9 months of the year, causing the inflation to drop to a historical minimum of 4.67%, Adevarul shows.

We have the cash, we have the needs, we can’t spend the cash on needs. That is, in short, the latest update about an incipient scandal.

Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu won’t be allowed to spend the money he raised through the “vice tax” on cigarettes and alcohol, unless he convinces parliamentarians that the destination is fair, Adevarul found out.

Romanians don’t get scared easily. Nothing to buy in Romania? We’ll go abroad! The foreigners that decided to spend their holidays in Romania were 2.8% more numerous than in 2005, while Romanians leaving to other countries to relax demanded 70% more seats in 2006, according to Cotidianul, which also estimates a 20% growth in 2007.

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