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What the newspapers say: May 4, 2006

Joi, 4 mai 2006, 0:00

The interference of politics and business keep the front page of Romanian newspapers today. The expected appearance of private pension funds in the country lures controversial business people into the fray, a maverick businessman who plays politics draws more public support than the prime-minister and the debts of another undermine activities at a local nuclear plant.

No wonder that nobody seems interested in the fate of a 14-year old mother, while newborns are guarded against thieves in maternity wards.

The appearance of the private pension funds will inject some 2 billion euro in the Romanian financial system, says MP Mihai Tanasescu, head of a House commission involved in drafting the legislation in this regard, quoted by business weekly Capital.

But while Capital claims the private pension funds will help many, newspaper Gandul disagrees and shows that the trade unions led by Liviu Luca, a union leader who also runs lots of businesses in Romania, has sent people close to another controversial businessman, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, in the Supervision Commission of the Pension Funds.

Vantu is notorious in Romania for a financial scheme that collapsed in late nineties, leaving tens of thousands of Romanians without their savings. According to Gandul, he has been interested in private pensions for a decade as the market is expected to reach some 20 billion euro in the next ten years.

Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei reports that works at the second unit of the Cernavoda nuclear plant in Southeast Romania risk considerable postponement as one of the main contractors, Nuclearmontaj Cernavoda, is on the brink of bankruptcy.

The reason stands in the fact that the firm - owned by businessman Ovidiu Tender, currently in preventive arrest under organized crime charges in separate, highly politicized business deals – has accumulated 130 billion Romanian lei in debt to the state budget.

And it plans to lay off some 1,000 employees to tackle the situation, according to the Evenimentul Zilei.

And the papers today also include one example on how businesses not only intersect with politics, but also improve the ratings of people involved in both. It is the case of Gigi Becali, a maverick real estate mogul who also owns the Steaua football club and is the leader of the New Generation Party.

A new poll quoted by Gandul shows that while this party is trusted by only 6% of Romanians, it is enough for it to enter Parliament if elections took place now. But leader Gigi Becali is trusted by no less than 31% of Romanians – more than PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu (28%) and opposition Social Democratic leader Mircea Geoana (24%).

Another "success" story comes from Cotidianul with a report that the agricultural land controlled by an opposition Social-Democratic senator, Doru Ioan Taracila, and politically connected businessman Ioan Niculaie were protected against Danube floods at the expense of thousands of displaced people.

The two own huge crops along the river, but on their territory authorities have not organized any controlled flood as they did elsewhere, sealing the fate of numerous evacuees from villages in Southern Romania.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Evenimentul Zilei tells the story of a 14-year old mother who has become isolated by people in her village, in a country where underage girls gave birth to some 20,000 babies in 2005. According to the newspaper, after the 8th grade Aurelia S.

gave birth to Maria, she became the talk of the day in the village of Corobai, in the Southern Romanian region of Oltenia.

And this has led to the isolation of Aurelia S. among her neighbors and both in school – where talk about a possible transfer for the troubled child is flourishing – and in church. That is, the two institutions due to provide moral authority for the local community in any village in Romania, the newspaper writes.

The story breaks as Adevarul quotes the head of a hospital in Bucharest who is keeping newborns locked in the maternity ward to prevent thieves from stealing them, as rumors speak young babies can be sold for 10,000 euro on the adoptions market.

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