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What the newspaper says: Friday, March 26, 2010

de C.B.
Vineri, 26 martie 2010, 3:53 English | Press Review

Romania’s Government is fighting the Courts over state employees' benefits. Elsewhere in the news, the local councillors from Bucharest take money from Hospitals and give it to Tourism. Last but not least, main American F-16 aircrafts competitors have reacted against Romania's Supreme Defence Council’s decision to buy second-hand F-16 without a previous auction.

Romania’s Government is fighting the Courts over state employees' benefits, Evenimentul Zilei reads. The Executive is accused by the unions for breaking the law by refusing to enforce judges' decision to give back state employees their benefits. Romanian state institutions were left with their pockets empty and decided to ignore the judges' verdicts of giving state employees back what the unique salary scheme took away.

The reason this occurred is that the employees have allegedly "puffed-up" their monthly incomes through collective contracts, which are now considered illegal, but have been accepted by Labour Ministry itself. Work Ministry heads advised credit managers to speak with the Justice Ministry to see if the decision is compulsory. Justice Ministry personnel say they are not qualified to make such observations.

Years on end, civil servants enjoyed smile and holiday recovery benefit, without the executive stepping in. Some central public institutions awarded their drivers benefits worth of 50% of their incomes, illegally. The number of state employees to enjoy these privileges amounts to 240.000. According to Labour Ministry officials, all ministers have known about it, but never took any action, as money was sufficient. Plus, it was a tool to be used in electoral campaigns, not only to buy social peace, but also votes, sources claim.

Bucharest cuts subventions previously aimed for the population and finances "The Zoo Day", Gandul reads. Money is taken from Hospitals and given to Tourism, the newspaper goes on. Councillors in Bucharest voted yesterday in favour of taking one million lei from hospitals, which are in a difficult situation anyway, and passing the money to Tourism.

Bucharest's budget for 2010 is 5.6bn lei, the equivalent of 1.33bn euros. Maior Sorin Oprescu, physician by profession, says the crisis budget that Romania's capital has to manage this year targets the Basarab Passage and stadium Lia Manoliu, investments, building kindergartens and hospitals, while the other public institutions will be financed through public-private partnerships.

Heating and transport subventions are low. Local councils' staff will no longer have their public transport paid, thus saving 12,000 free travel cards. Public transport will be slightly more expensive and hot water subvention might be cut as well. In order to keep the current prices for public transport and heating, Bucharest officials decided to redistribute part of the money to these sectors.

Main American F-16 aircrafts competitors, namely SAAB and Eurofighter, have reacted against Romania's Supreme Defence Council’s (CSAT) decision to buy second-hand F-16 without a previous auction, Adevarul informs. Representatives of the European consortium producing Eurofighter Typhoon have said that an international auction is the standard procedure in military acquisitions in all EU countries.

Romania's decision to skip an open auction has deprived the country of yet another opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the European aircraft industry, the Eurofighter communiqué notes. The company's reps claim that for a sum similar to what Romania intends to spend on the 24 second-hand F-16 planes, Eurofighter could have offered a much better financial package, including a superior aircraft, plus a substantial economic offset, which would have led to long-tern new jobs.

Gripen still hopes for the auction. Swedish Arms Administration manager Jerry Lindbergh believes that modern Gripen aircrafts, plus the training offset and governmental finance arrangements would be much more advantageous for the Romanian air forces. Gripen marketing manager for Romania Richard Smith said he would ask the Government to use the Defence Ministry and inform the Parliament on all offers, before a final decision was taken.  

Romania is the only EU country to not have signed by now official EU documents everybody else subscribed to, namely the Defence Acquisition Conduct Code and Offset Conduct Code. The two documents feature a series of measures addressing the limitation of corruption in military trade and economic compensation programme transparency.

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