SPORTS

NEWS IN BRIEF

League I: FC Brasov defeated at home


FC Brasov has suffered a new defeat in the second half of the season, losing its home-side game against International Curtea de Arges, and continues to rank 8th, 4 points below FC Vaslui, the latter having an extra game to play. Despite taking the lead after Dorel Zaharia’s 12th minute goal, FC Brasov eventually lost all of the points put up for grabs. FC Brasov is going through a difficult period, winning a single game in the second half of the season and losing its game against Universitatea Craiova the leg before, score 0-3. The team’s fans have asked head coach Viorel Moldovan to resign. International Curtea de Arges has won 17 points in the 11 away-games it has played, registering 5 wins and 2 draws.


Tennis: Adrian Ungur defeated in Marrakech


Romanian tennis player Adrian Ungur has been defeated by Italy’s Andrea Arnaboldi in the opening round of the challenger tournament in Marrakech (Morocco), score 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, Agerpres informs. The tournament has total prizes of EUR 106,500. Ungur won a check for EUR 1,110. In the doubles event, Victor Crivoi (Romania) and Blaz Kavcic (Slovenia) were defeated by Daniele Bracciali (Italy) and Jonathan Erlich (Israel), score 3-6, 6-7 (3).


Romania fails
to qualify for Water Polo World League



Romania’s national water polo team was defeated by the world title holder Serbia, score 5-18, and has failed to qualify for the final tournament of the Water Polo World League.


The game counted for the last but one round of the qualifiers. Spain will join Serbia at the final tournament after defeating Turkey, score 14-6. Romania registered two wins – 9-7 against Spain and 16-8 in Turkey – and two defeats (5-7 at home against Serbia and 7-9 in Spain). In the last round, scheduled on Saturday, Romania will play at home against Turkey, while Serbia will play against Spain.


Beckham
recovering well



David Beckham is recovering well from Achilles tendon surgery and the former England captain will leave Finland on Wednesday, his surgeon said for Reuters. “He is recovering fine, he has been walking with crutches.


He can move around a little bit more every day,” Dr. Sakari Orava told Reuters. “(His recovery) is as expected.” The 34-year-old midfielder tore the tendon in AC Milan’s 1-0 win over Chievo on Sunday and flew to Finland for the operation performed by one of the world’s top specialists. Despite the surgery being hailed as a success, Beckham appears certain to miss the World Cup starting on June 11.


Orava said Beckham, joined by his wife Victoria on Tuesday, did not say where he would go after leaving the western Finnish city of Turku, dubbed “the centre of the world” by local media once it emerged the midfielder would seek treatment there. “I said maybe it is not wise to fly over the Atlantic right now, to stay somewhere for 2-3 days,” Orava said. “But the risk is small.” “Maybe he has an island paradise somewhere.”

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NEWS IN BRIEF

Romanian woman held over kidnapping
of British child in Pakistan



The Spanish police has arrested three people – one Romanian and two Pakistanis – in connection to the kidnapping of five-year-old British boy Sahil Saeed in Pakistan, ‘The Times’ wrote on Wednesday. The three were arrested on Tuesday after the child was released in Pakistan’s Punjab province and were charged with being part of the gang that had held the child and asked for a ransom of EUR 87,000. The three were detained in the town of Constanti, a town located in north-east Spain and which has an important Pakistani community. The suspects’ neighbors told ‘Diario de Tarragona,’ a local daily, that police confiscated a large sum of money. “A neighbor overheard a police officer saying that they found most of the ransom money,” the daily writes. Two of the suspects allegedly work for the local justice department. The three people, whose names were withheld, will appear before a court at the end of the week. Spanish police refused to make any comments.


Five detained for theft and assault in Austria


Austrian police officers have detained five Romanians who are suspected of robbing and assaulting a car dealer in Ansfelden, northern Austria, ‘Austrian Times’ daily writes. The incident took place on Monday when two men and one woman, all of them Romanians, entered a car dealership under the pretext of seeking to buy a second-hand car. The Romanians allegedly attacked the dealer with mace and assaulted him, causing him serious head injuries. They stole his money and mobile phone and fled. Police officers have arrested two men (one 34 years old, the other 37 years old) and the woman that accompanied them. Two other Romanians that stood outside the dealership during the incident were also detained.


Soldiers on combat missions to receive life insurance worth EUR 80,000


Each Romanian soldier on combat missions will receive a life insurance policy worth EUR 80,000, according to an announcement made by the Ministry of Defence. Soldiers will also be insured against first and second degree invalidity (EUR 60,000), and against third degree invalidity (EUR 40,000). Likewise, soldiers will have a EUR 60,000 insurance against illness and injuries received during and because of combat actions, training and fulfillment of mission duties and resulting in inabilities, mutilations and irreversible physical defects. At the same time, insurers will cover the expenses of repatriating soldiers (up to EUR 14,000), of hospitalisation and treatment (EUR 60 per day for no less than 3 days and no longer than 90 days) and of any needed pharmaceutical drugs (up to EUR 6,000).

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NEWS IN BRIEF

U.S. to end 96-hour rule for Afghan detainees


A controversial policy that gives U.S. forces in Afghanistan four days to question detainees is being changed to give soldiers more time to interrogate the captives, Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday, according to the CNN. Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that American troops will now be able to hold detainees for up to 14 days before either releasing them or turning them over to the Afghan government. In some cases, longer detention will be an option, he said. The rule was enforced after Roger Hill, a former Army captain, received a general discharge for his role in the questioning of 12 detainees. Those men, including one who was his trusted interpreter, had worked on his base in Afghanistan. Angry and frustrated that the interpreter might be sabotaging missions, Hill detained all 12 men in a small building on the base. Hill said the rule does not work, and many times dangerous suspects are released because there’s not enough time to gather evidence.


French police hunt
ETA suspects
after officer killed



French police were searching for at least six suspected members of the Basque separatist movement ETA on Wednesday after a French policeman was shot and killed.


The unnamed 52-year-old officer was part of a patrol that was attacked after it halted a speeding car in Dammarie-les-Lys, a suburb east of Paris late on Tuesday. The police came under fire from other vehicles, which were apparently committing several car thefts from a garage. “We think it was a commando unit of at least six people, maybe 10, including a woman, because six cars were stolen,” a French judicial source said. One man was arrested at the scene and he gave a Spanish identity corresponding to that of a Basque individual close to ETA, according to the same source.


Machete attack
on Nigeria village kills
at least 13



Raiders armed with machetes killed at least 13 people in an attack on a village near the central Nigeria city of Jos on Wednesday, close to where hundreds have died in sectarian violence this year. A Reuters witness in the village of Byei, in the Riyom area around 30 km (20 miles) south of Jos, counted 13 bodies, most of them women, following what residents said an attack in the early hours. At least three huts were also burned in the raid. The attack happened despite a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Plateau State which has been enforced by the military since January, when clashes between Muslim and Christian mobs killed more than 400 people, according to community leaders.


Medvedev to visit Ukraine in May


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Ukraine in May, setting the seal on a return to normal relations between the neighbours after five years of acrimony. A statement by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s media service said the two sides had agreed May 17-18 for the visit which will be Medvedev’s first to Kiev since taking over the top Kremlin job in May 2008. Relations between Ukraine and its former Soviet master plummeted under Ukraine’s former pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko whose drive for NATO membership and nationalist policies upset the Kremlin.

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BUSINESS

NEWS IN BRIEF

Compulsory home insurance law possibly
enforced as of July 1



The compulsory home insurance law may start being implemented on July 1, by which date the policy issuing company will be fully prepared and the re-insurance agreement will be concluded, PAID General Manager Marius Bulugea said, according to Mediafax. ‘We don’t have a definite date. It is all down to how negotiations with re-insurance brokers go and to when the agreement with PAID will be signed’, Bulugea said during a specialised seminar. Bulugea said brokers Willis, AON, Guy Carpenter, RFBI and Stellar Re would soon produce re-insurance price quotes for the Natural Calamity Insurance Pool (PAID). He also reminded of the fact that the most important current aspect of the company’s work is the purchase and implementation of the IT system for the management of sold policies and for the generation of a real-time penetration rates, as well as lists of uninsured home owners. ‘The agreement for the IT system purchase has been concluded with Essential Systems. The system will be developed with Microsoft software and IBM hardware’, PAID head said, without mentioning the contract value. Another thing Bulugea said was that some 20 per cent – 25 per cent of home owners would buy a mandatory home insurance policy by the end of the year.


Total debt of 32,000 insolvent companies – EUR 2.5 bn


The liabilities of the 32,000 companies that were in insolvency procedures at the end of 2009 sum up EUR 2.5 bln, of which less than 10 per cent was retrieved last year, the President of the National Union of Insolvency Practitioners of Romania (UNPIR), Arin Stanescu, says, quoted by Mediafax. At a Forum Invest seminar, he pointed to the fact that only in the first two months of 2010 a total of 4,200 new claims were made in insolvency procedures. UNPIR processed data shows that, while EUR 150 M worth of liabilities were recovered in H1 2009, in H2 things deteriorated, as recoveries were of only EUR 50 M. On the other hand, Cornel Florea, partner in Consulta 99, says that, although the price of land was down almost 70 per cent and the average price of buildings was down by over 25 per cent last year, it is still cumbersome to sell property and the market is characterised by scarcity of opportunities.


Official exchange rate drops to 4.0821 RON/EUR


Romanian currency appreciated in the beginning of yesterday’s trading session, but to a less extent than other currencies across the region, following the indirect intervention of the Central Bank (BNR), dealers said, and the reference exchange rate dropped to 4.0821 RON/EUR, close to the lowest level of 2010, Mediafax reports. An inferior exchange rate was reported by BNR on February 1, when EUR reached this year’s minimum, at 4.0805 RON/EUR. Compared to Tuesday’s rate of 4.0908 RON/EUR, the reference rate calculated yesterday has lost 0.87 pc.


For the American currency, BNR reported an exchange rate of 2.9597 RON/USD, down 2.98 Ban (RON 0.0298) from the previous level of 2.9895 RON/USD.

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BUSINESS

NEWS IN BRIEF

Gov’t might proceed to budget
rectification next month



Government might rectify this year’s budget in April, when an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation is expected in Bucharest to assess whether the country stayed within the agreed targets, Realitatea.net reports, quoting government sources. “The Finance Ministry is looking to have Romania stay within the targets agreed with international monetary institutions, and, based on the level of revenues in the first two months, we will decide at the end of this month whether or not to have a budget rectification in April. We need to cut spending in order to stay within the revenues forecast for the first quarter of 2010, and the health and education budgets are likely to get more money for salaries,” government officials said, adding that the ministries earmarked for such cuts are yet to be decided. Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu said earlier this week that he was expecting general budget incomes to reach the estimated level as of March, following January-February earnings lower than expected.


Dacia takes Duster SUV to Ireland in 2012


In 2012, Dacia plans to start selling its new Duster SUV not only in Great Britain, as originally announced, but also in Ireland, ‘The Irish Times’ reported on Wednesday. Dacia will have its own space reserved in the Renault showrooms so that the brand launch cost as little as possible. Duster will have its official launching in Romania today, with prices from EUR 10,500. In the West, the Duster sells for prices starting from EUR 11,900 – the 4X2 variant – and from EUR 13,900 – the 4X4 variant.


The Irish Times says, in the beginning, Duster will be the only representative of the Dacia brand in Ireland. The car will be sold by just some of the dealers, and the daily notes that, in the recent months, Renault has been making massive changes across its dealership network taking the franchise away from some of them that are actually quite well-known. In addition, the Dacia SUV will be welcome as dealers have quit selling the Renault Koleos SUV after two years of poor sales. The Renault Group at the beginning of March announced it would launch Dacia on the UK market in 2012. In a meeting with the Romanian press in Geneva, Renault Operational Manager Patrick Pelata said no decision had been made as to where the right hand drive Dacia vehicles would be made, but there were two options: Pitesti and Chennal (India).


E.ON boss pleads for natural gas prices hikes


After several years during which the regulated price of natural gas was kept low by consecutive election campaigns, the moment has come for prices to take into account the economic facts on the energy market. ‘The price of imported natural gas rose significantly, by 15 per cent in Q1 compared to Q4 of 2009, and we are expecting a new price hike of 10-15 per cent for the rest of the year,’ Frank Hajdinjak, general director E.ON Romania, stated for ‘Adevarul’ daily. If the price of natural gas does not rise gradually the population will later suffer a price hike shock, Frank Hajdinjak stated. Foreign investors find Romania extremely attractive however incoherent government policies affect that advantage, the E.ON official opined. Hajdinjak pointed out that there is no economic reason to keep the price of natural gas for the population at the same level following April 1. ‘From an economic and methodological point of view there should be a significant hike of more than 17 per cent. We are aware that this hike is not possible during this period but we have to find a long-term approach in order to solve the problem, a problem that can no longer be postponed because the situation will only get worse if we lose the moment in which the price hike can be small,’ the E.ON official pointed out.


Romania, fifth in EU in terms of annual salary expenses, in Q4


Romania ranks fifth in the European Union based on the increase of salary costs per work hour, during the last three months of 2009, with a 5.1 pc hike year-on-year, against a European average of 2.2 pc, Mediafax reports, quoting sources from Eurostat. In Q3 2009, the annual increase of salary expenses sustained by employers reached 9.5 pc in Romania, compared to 2.8 pc across the EU. Out of the 24 EU states that provided data to the European statistics bureau, the highest increases of salary costs per work hour were reported by Bulgaria (11.3 pc), Austria (6.5 pc), Poland (5.7 pc) and the Czech Republic (5.4 pc). Romania also ranks fifth based on the annual increase of total labour expenses sustained by employers per work hour, which stood at 5.2 pc. In the third quarter of 2009, total labor expenses per work hour soared by 9.6 pc year-on-year in Romania and by 2.9 pc in the EU. According to Eurostat, data referring to Romania is not final.


Thefts inflict damages worth EUR 2 M on CFR


Last year the Romanian Railway Company (CFR) reported damages worth approximately EUR 2.5 M as a consequence of 1,335 thefts that mainly targeted infrastructure, ‘Gandul’ daily writes. The thieves stole everything they could carry, from small railway components (horizontal and vertical bolts, metal plates used to fix the railway on the ties) to ties and rails. Even the copper cables of railway lights and the telecommunication cables were stolen. Last year most of the thefts targeted railway installations (1,100 cases reported to police) however most of the damage (RON 6.2 M) comes from thefts that targeted the railway lines. The thefts also targeted storage sites located along railways, on closed railway lines but also storage sites located on maneuver lines or lines open to railway traffic. CFR officials have underlined that most of the cases of theft and destruction did endanger traffic safety and caused significant traffic delays.

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POLITICS

NEWS IN BRIEF

PNL proposes
motion on labour, health system



The PSD+PC political group on Tuesday proposed a motion called ‘Satan – a PD-L tsunami sweeping off Romanians’ salaries, pensions and jobs’ and PNL tabled on Wednesday a second motion called ‘Nothing healthy in the health system’. On its regular motion proposed in the Chamber of Deputies, PNL is urging the health minister to take measures to unlock the healthcare system, including the allocation of 6 per cent of the GDP to the sector, depoliticising hospital management and provision of subsidised medicaments. PNL accused the Government of simply not caring about the healthcare system that is now in going through the worst situation in 20 years. Phrased as a speech in the 1st person by ex Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu, the motion rebukes the levelling of hospital tariffs mentioned by the current health minister. The Liberals also argue that ‘switching county emergency hospitals to local authorities equals a waiver of responsibility by the state’ in the area of emergency medical care which is normally the state’s responsibility towards all the country’s citizens, insured or not. The respective motions sponsored by PSD+PC and PNL will be debated on in plenary session by the Chamber of Deputies Monday and Tuesday.

Dorneanu, possibly PSD’s CC judge
designate



Social Democrats may nominate Valer Dorneanu for one of the three Constitutional Court judge positions that will become vacant this year, PSD sources told Mediafax on Tuesday. Dorneanu’s nomination has not been officially discussed by the PSD leadership, but was rather brought up informally by some of the leaders, sources say.


Dorneanu will likely be appointed to the job if parliamentary parties agree to share the three vacant seats. Constitutional Court President Ioan Vida officially informed the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday that his term would expire on June 7. He noted that, on May 15, 2001, he was appointed on the job for a nine-year term by decision of the Chamber of Deputies and that his term would expire on June 7, 2010. The term of Nicolae Cochinescu, appointed by the Senate in 2001, is also expiring on June 7. Under the law, a new Constitutional Court judge must be appointed at least a month before his predecessor’s term expires. Senate Deputy Speaker Teodor Melescanu (PNL) on March 5 said he was interested, as a matter of principle, in becoming a Constitutional judge, but said any discussion was premature at the moment.

PNL Baia Mare Mayor Cristian Anghel gets prison sentence


The Mayor of the city of Baia Mare, Cristian Anghel (PNL), was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment by the Cluj Appellate Court of Appeals for office abuse on Wednesday. The mayor got a prison sentence of two years and six months, ZiarMM.ro informs. The court judgement is final. Cluj Court of Appeals spokeswoman Claudia Ilies told Agerpres that the sentence was an executory one and that the convict would have to serve it, given that all his judicial review options had been exhausted. Ilies also said that the sentence would be enforced in the shortest time possible.

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