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ROMANIA


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 60,358 44,428 38,700 52
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,310 1,850 1,720 100
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 122 - (26/07/07)

The people trust Basescu
Romanian president Traian Basescu is the only national political leader who holds the confidence of a majority of the country's residents, according to a poll by IMAS. 56 per cent of respondents say they trust Basescu.

New Generation Party (PNG) leader Gigi Becali is next on the list with 33 per cent, followed by Liberal-Democrats (PLD) leader Theodor Stolojan with 31 per cent. Less than 20 per cent of respondents trust Democratic Party (PD) leader Emil Boc, former president and Social Democratic Party (PSD) member Ion Iliescu, and PSD leader Mircea Geoana, and current prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who trails on 13%.

The Alliance for Justice and Truth (DA)-comprising the PD and the National Liberal Party (PNL)-won the November 2004 parliamentary election, securing 132 seats in the 332-member Chamber of Deputies. DA candidate Basescu won the presidential run-off in December 2004 with 51.23 per cent of the vote, defeating PSD contender Adrian Nastase. Basescu later appointed fellow alliance member Tariceanu as prime minister.

Along with Bulgaria, Romania joined the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1st This year, tensions between Basescu and Tariceanu have increased, and the coalition government has come to a stalemate. In April, Basescu was suspended from the presidency over charges of abuse of power in a 322-108 Chamber of Deputies vote, following an initiative developed by PNL members of parliament loyal to Tariceanu. 

On May 19, 74 per cent of participating Romanian voters rejected Basescu's impeachment in a national referendum. 

On July 3, deputy prime minister and Hungarian Democratic Alliance of Romania (UDMR) leader Marko Bela resigned from the government. Bela had announced he would leave office shortly after the referendum because his party endorsed the impeachment drive against Basescu. In a statement, Bela said the UDMR would continue supporting the current government.

Polling Data
Do you trust the following politicians?
(Positive responses listed)
Current president Traian Basescu 56%
New Generation Party (PNG) leader Gigi Becali 33%
Liberal-Democrats (PLD) leader Theodor Stolojan 31%
Democratic Party (PD) leader Emil Boc 18%
Former president Ion Iliescu 18%
Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Mircea Geoana 16%
Prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu 13%
Source: IMAS
Methodology: Interviews to 1,300 Romanian adults, conducted from Jun. 9 to Jun. 17, 2007. Margin of error is 2.6 per cent.

Romanians trust ugly politicians more
Normally, good-looking politicians gain the trust of the populace everywhere in the world, beauty being often associated with confidence. A poll conducted by the Social Research Bureau had contrary results in Romania, showing that electors tend to trust more in less good-looking politicians.

Thus, 14% of Romanians say that the ugliest man on the political stage is the very head of state, President Traian Basescu, who also enjoys the trust of over half of Romanians.
In the "ugly top", Basescu is followed by far-right leader C.V. Tudor, former president Ion Iliescu and Senate speaker Nicolae Vacaroiu.

The most beautiful (and least trusted) are Cristian Boureanu, Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, "President's Blonde" Elena Udrea and controversial Gigi Becali. 

There is one fact that the Romanians are forgetting here. Their former dictator, Ceaucescu was hideous and in a most sinister way, while he had a gruesome-looking wife too in Elena. Ugliness is no guarantee of decency, any more than good looks are. 

Distrust of Tariceanu widening
Whether Tariceanu is deemed too good-looking to be an honest premier, there are other grounds for his unpopularity. He had a reshuffle in April in which he sacked an honest, if homely, woman in Justice Minister Monica Macovei. She had made a serious effort to target corruption in high places. It could be expected that the relevant people in the European Commission and the European parliament will have demanded explanations

She had made this her mission, appointing a team of tough and independent investigators to assist her. Her and their crime was to do so with spirit, investigating and indicting lawmakers, ministers and even a former prime minister, Adrian Nastase. This was to impress the EU Commission that Romania meant business here, as well as for itself. Clearly that was going too far for the top brass of Romanian politics. Maybe even a prime minister in situ would be next on the list. Obviously she had to go and the investigators cowed and put in their place. 

In her absence there is unlikely to be any major prosecution, although a few small fry may be flung to the wolves. These ugly facts explain Tariceanu's unpopularity rather better than his looks. People don't like being ruled by crooks and scheisters. 

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Extreme weather: temperatures expected to rise again after August 12
To turn to a very different subject Romania is suffering from severe heat. PM Tariceanu held a video conference with local representatives of the government on July 16th to establish the measures needed to be taken in the next period to counteract the effects of a long period of drought still affecting Romania.

Ion Sandu, general director of the National Meteorology Administration said that during the next week temperatures, which are expected to remain very high these days, would fall before growing again starting August 12th.

The Romanian PM underlined the fact that weather conditions and forecast are not a secret - as alleged in a Bucharest-based newspaper today - and that the government was working closely with specialists to prepare the population for extreme weather conditions in advance.

Ion Sandu added that after July 22nd the country would maintain its yellow code as the temperatures would fall by 2-3 degrees Celsius. However, starting August 12th, temperatures will increase again tremendously.

Tariceanu summoned local officials to have them better involved in counteracting the drought, to set up lists of vulnerable persons and to offer emergency catering services so that they would not be forced to exit their homes.

The PM announced that there were 374 points of water distribution and 339 first aid tents to help passers-by in 180 towns across the country. 

Romania discovers environmentalism
Ioana Lupea, Liberal member, believes global warming is the ideal vehicle for increasing Romanians' interest in ecological issues. The Romanian Liberals have now discovered the environment as a political theme. 

"A lot of rubbish will be dumped in our rivers before we finally adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle. We're still traumatised by the shortages of electricity, water, gas and heat during the times of communism. The Liberals are the first political party to recognise the potential of environmental discourse and green policies, and they have the advantage that they're already in power. The Rosia Montana project, the Danube delta and the rubbish dumps surrounding Bucharest could be the deciding factor in a political contest that so far has largely ignored ecological issues."

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AUTOMOBILES

Ford Motor submits bid to acquire Craiova plant

Ford Motor recently submitted a bid - formally accepted by the Romanian Authority for State Assets Recovery - to acquire the Automobile Craiova assembly plant, Auto Industry reported. 
Speaking regarding the process in Bucharest, Ford of Europe President and CEO, John Fleming, was quoted as saying: "Although it is too early to discuss specifics of our proposal, we believe it offers the best combination of financial, technological and environmental commitments under which Ford would turn the Craiova facility into a highly innovative world-class manufacturing complex with significant employment opportunities." Ford believes the facility in Craiova is a strategically important site for the company's future growth. Ford of Europe produced 1.86 million units at seven assembly plants in 2006, and additional manufacturing space is needed to meet its ambitious new product and growth plans.

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ENERGY

Rompetrol's LPG division to up market share significantly


Rompetrol Gas expects increase in its market share two-fold to 15 per cent in five years, Romanian national daily Ziarul Financiar reported on June 18th. 
Rompetrol Gas is the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) division of Romanian oil company Rompetrol. "We expect to reach at least 15 per cent market share on the retail segment within five years by speeding up our investments," company General Director Toma Veron was quoted as saying. Rompetrol Gas expects to achieve this goal by tripling its presence in the autogas sector and by a 10 per cent increase in the gas cylinder distribution segment, it was reported. "We had a six percent market share last year and we expect to reach a seven percent market share through investments planned in the retail sector," Veron was quoted as saying, adding: "We have 6,000 gas cylinder shops in the country and we plan to increase this number by 10 per cent. We also plan to triple the number of autogas distribution stores." The most important investment of the company is a 16-million-Euro investment in two LPG terminals in Arad in Western Romania and Bacau in Eastern Romania. Autogas sales show a significant increase in Romania, while the company expects the government to further promote this market segment, as autogas is seen as less polluting, the newspaper reports. Rompetrol Gas also intends to sign cooperation agreements with taxi companies, a move that could assure steady deliveries for the company, according to the news source. Rompetrol's LPG division - established in July 2006 - expects revenues to reach 34 million Euro in 2007. The nearly 450,000 tonnes of gas sold on the Romanian LPG market section in 2006 is worth a total of 320 million Euro, while Veron expects this number to reach 350 million Euro in 2007, it was reported. A recent move in the Romanian LPG sector was the acquisition of two Shell LPG distributors for 50 million Euro by Romania's largest oil company Petrom in early June. Petrom's LPG division now has a 33 per cent market share in the liquefied petroleum gas segment, followed by Romanian gas distributors Butan Gas with a 21 percent market share and Crimbo Gas with a 10 per cent market share.

Petrom to invest 500 mln Euro in Ploiesti plant

Petrom announced on June 18th that it plans to invest 500 million Euro in establishing a gas-fired power plant in the Southern Romanian city of Ploiesti, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The plant will have a capacity of 860 megawatts. Petrom is Romania's largest oil company and is majority-owned by Austria's OMV. "Petrom approved in the meeting of the Supervisory Board on June 15th the project to build a gas-fired power plant," the company's announcement read, adding: "The total investment for the plant including infrastructure investments will be in the magnitude of 500 million Euro." The power plant will be constructed on the premises of Petrobrazi refinery, starting in 2008, with full capacity expected by the end of 2010; and will be supplied with natural gas through the pipeline of Romanian state-owned National Company for Natural Gas Transmission (Transgaz), the Romanian participant of the planned 4.6bn Euro Nabucco pipeline project, which would carry gas from Central Asia through Turkey to Austria, it was reported. Around 20 percent of the power plant's capacity will be used to supply the demand of Petrom's own consumption in refining, exploration and production segments, while the rest will be distributed in the national power grid. "The new power plant will have a major contribution to the increase of Romania's energy security and to the reduction of environmental impact," Petrom Deputy CEO Werner Schinhan was quoted by Interfax as saying, adding: "It is a project developed in accordance with the European energy strategy and in line with EU environmental requirements." Schinhan said that the power market will see major structural changes in countries where aging capacities are to be replaced by new, cleaner and less carbon-intense technologies, and that entering the power market is an excellent opportunity for Petrom. "This project sets the strategic growth path of Petrom and the OMV group, as it is one of the company's sources of diversification and sustainable development," Schinnan said. Petrom revenues reached 3.7 billion Euro in 2006.

Agip Romania to invest 7m Euro in new stations

Agip Romania, the domestic branch of the Italian petroleum group Eni SpA, will invest approximately seven million Euro in opening five new filling stations this year, according to company general manager Nicola Meuli, Budapest Business Journal reported on June 26th.
The Italians announced their intention to invest 36 million Euro within the next four years, which would boost Agip Romania's market share from two percent to four percent after the investment programme is completed. "In order to have a comfortable position on the market, we would require a minimum share of eight percent," Meuli was quoted as saying by the press. He said that the big infrastructure projects announced on the market represent a significant development opportunity for the fuel retail market. Agip Romania estimates a 90 million Euro turnover, alongside a net profit of two million Euro for this year.

CEZ to invest in Cernavoda's reactors 3 and 4

CEZ Group Romania is interested in investing in reactors 3 and 4 of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, Ian Veskrna, chairman of the CEZ Board of director, was cited by ACT Media News Agency as saying recently. 
Company officials said the group is interested in investing 208 million leu in Romania this year, in all sectors of operation. "We are interested in reactors 3 and 4 of the Cernavoda plant, but we are waiting to see the Romanian energy strategy document approved, and the decision to invest in this sector will be made by the group's board of directors," CEZ Romania Business Development Manager, Doru Voicu, was quoted as saying. Group officials are also interested in the Romanian co-generation market (electricity and thermal power), it was reported. "For four months, we have been assessing the acquisition of parts of the thermal power plants operated by local authorities in Romania," Doru Voicu was quoted as saying. Construction works for reactors number 3 and 4 in Cernavoda could start in the first half of 2008, with estimated costs of 2.4 billion Euro. The authorities intend to select investors that would contribute to the capital of the project company, together with the plant's operator, Nuclearelectrica. CEZ Distributie reported profits of 27 million Euro for 2006.

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RETAIL

Mobexpert looks to boost sales by opening new stores

Furniture group Mobexpert expects to post sales worth 30 million Euro on the Bulgarian market in the next few years, after the opening of several large stores, Ziarul Financier reported on June 20th.
"On the Bulgarian market, we intend to open three hypermarkets. In terms of sales, I believe we can reach 30 million Euro," Mobexpert Chairman Dan Sucu was quoted as saying. The group is close to completing a six-million-Euro investment in its first hypermarket outside Romania, which will be located in Sofia.

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TOURISM

Funds to be used to promote tourism

Until 2013, Romania will benefit from 150 million Euro in funds for tourist promotion and information programmes through the Regional Operational Programme (POR), said Lucia Morariu, state secretary for tourism in the Ministry for SMEs, Trade, Tourism and Liberal Professions, Nine o' Clock reported on July 3rd, cited by Reporter.gr. 
"We shall receive around 150 million Euro for promotion, through POR, until 2013, the money being used for the creation of a national brand for tourism, the promotion of the domestic market and the creation of a pilot network of national promotion centres," Lucia Morariu was quoted as saying.
The European Union will allot around 75 million Euro for the construction of a national brand for tourism and promotional campaigns, it was reported.
Another 15 million will be allotted for the development of the domestic market by supporting the promotion projects, while around 60 million will be used to build a pilot network of national promotion and tourist information centres. Initially, POR list included Suceava, Baia Mare, Oradea, Arad, Cluj, Ramnicu Valcea, Sighisoara, Bucharest, Tulcea and Constanta, but the authorities want to include all the county capitals on the list. Morariu also said that the promotion funds, around 1.5 million Euro, will be directed, in a proportion of 70 per cent, towards the external promotion. According to the plan regarding the development of Romanian tourism, the priority markets are Germany, Austria, Britain, France, Great Britain, Italy and the United States, while the secondary countries are in the Scandinavian Peninsula, Benelux, Spain, China and Japan, it was reported.
"This year, we have a very significant growth on the littoral, so big that it is very difficult to find places. Some 1.3 million Romanian and foreign tourists are awaited, the latter being as many as 100,000," she was quoted as saying.

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