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Happy New Year 2010!

Here we are closing 2009 far from what we wished for a year ago. After as 2008 marked by strong economic growth and stimulated by officials’ promises, most Romanians were looking with optimism at 2009. It wasn’t meant to be. We have been through a year of disillusion and hardships. The economic and financial crisis started manifesting itself quite fast, Romanian exports experienced a dramatic fall, the local market shrank, unemployment rose to over seven per cent, many had to give up on their car lease contracts and many defaulted on the repayment of their bank loans. The cost of bank loans went through the roof. Despite Government’s promises, public investment dropped and so did the FDI. Public sector workers were forced to take unpaid leave so that the state could make some savings. As for teachers who were getting promises of 50 per cent pay rises at the end of 2008, not only did they not get any of that, but they actually had to go one unpaid leave themselves, as required by the state.


From a political point of view, for nine months we had a PDL-PSD government that seemed to be against nature. We had our first government (Emil Boc) dismissed by censure motion in October. We had European parliamentary election in June and presidential election in November-December. We had a dirty and impudent election campaign.


Last but not least, we celebrated 20 years of democracy.


We are now greeting 2010 with much less optimism. 70-80,000 state workers will be made redundant according to announcements made by the labour minister these days. Despite the same official’s promises otherwise, unemployment is expected to continue to grow. There will be no more meal or gift vouchers for the employees. There will be no pay rises and expenditures will be massively reduced. We have a new Government, still an Emil Boc Government, sanctioned by Parliament and soon we expect to have an approved state budget for 2010. The IMF, WB and EC will probably disburse the remaining instalments of the loan. But will that be enough for Romania to get back on its feet? Can Romanians expect to start looking again with confidence anytime in the near future? These are only a few questions waiting for an answer in 2010 – a difficult year still to be affected by the economic crisis.


We nevertheless need to keep our optimism. There is a Romanian proverb saying ’What can happen in an hour sometimes does not happen in a year’. Together with our readers, we will live through 2010 with its ups and downs, but in the confidence that one can always do better.


In this last issue of the year, ‘Nine O’Clock’ wishes its readers a Happy and hopefully better New Year 2010!

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