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February 26, 2021

The Economist: Basescu might return as PM in 2014

Although with his image tainted, President Basescu, a “charming and dodgy” political figure, might return in 2014 as country’s PM, ‘The Economist’ writes in an analysis on Romanian society, quoted by ‘Romania libera’.

The article, entitled “Disap­pointing Romania: Holes and Corners” puts together a merciless picture of the country’s political, social and economical life. According to the weekly, in the excitement of joining the European Union in 2007, Romania enjoyed a three-year boom in which annual growth peaked at a striking 8 per cent. Where a prudent government would have hit the brakes, Romania’s stamped on the accelerator, running a big budget deficit.

Among the measures the government has taken, the journalists from the reputed magazine mention the 25 per cent reduction in public-sector wages adding that in two years the” bloated public sector” has sacked more than 100,000 employees. After the constitutional court vetoed a pension reform, the government raised VAT to 24 per cent. “Many Romanians see the central bank as their most solid institution. Governments come and go but its boss since 1990, Mugur Isarescu, is a powerful background presence. The bank keeps the RON, Romania’s currency, fairly stable, inflation down and a watchful eye on the financial system.”

Among other weak economical spots construction is mentioned, which “is still in the dumps, so are investment and consumer spending.” Help could come from the EUR 30 billion that the European Union has set aside to modernize Romania, the largest and poorest of its new members. “But only a measly EUR 1.5 bln has been spent so far. Among many scandalous bottlenecks, Romania still lacks a proper road between Bucharest and its main port, Constanta.”

One of the reasons the article invokes for keeping away many foreign investors is the fact that services are particularly underdeveloped,” although local workforce is flexible and multilingual.

Concluding the analysis with a general picture of Romanian politics, ‘The Economist’ journalists say anti-corruption campaigners are getting ready for another big push, “though the corrosiv§ely gloomy media make many feel that such efforts are hopeless.” Previous victories, such as the election of Basescu in the “orange revolution” of December 2004, have proved fleeting. Scandals, in part politicised, have tainted the former sea-captain’s image, though he may yet return, Putin-style, as prime minister when his term runs out in 2014. “But his greatest fans now are abroad. Many welcome his mended fences with neighbouring Moldova. They would vote for him there, whatever his own people might do.”

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