2018, the year of the Great Union’s centennial, is also the year in which we celebrate, by a great coincidence 150 years from the inauguration of the Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It is the year in which, maybe more than ever, we have remembered with great pride our forefathers, strong personalities with great vision.
It is the year in which we have asked ourselves what do we have to do in order to honor their memory, to continue their work and fulfill our role. In our case, the Bucharest Chamber of Commerce, it is the role of an authorized and well known representative of the most powerful business community of the country.
It is the year in which we have talked more than ever about challenges, opportunities, hopes and perspectives. It is the year in which we have evaluated resources, we built plans, and we did projections, all of them with a common objective: the desire of contributing to the building of a modern Romania anchored to the social, economic and cultural reality of the 21st century. I am sure that we all want a Romania that respects its past, it learns from its past, and builds with vision, decency and perseverance its future, in a strongly globalized world in which it has to answer to another set of challenges, different from 100 years ago.
Yes, we know, the reality of our days is slightly different, but I am an incurable optimist and I strongly believe that Romania can look like this in the next 20-30 years. A hundred years ago, our forefathers gave life to an almost impossible dream, the making of the Great Romania. Also then, it wasn’t an easy situation: war, epidemics, a country partially occupied by foreign military troops. The Union was not made by perfect people, in a perfect moment. But by people with defects and qualities, who have managed in a difficult economic, social and political context to put the Great Romania on Europe’s map, the dream of so many generations. How have they achieved it? Giving pride up temporarily, working together, completing each other and spending their energy on a common objective.
Today, 100 years after those great life lessons, many things have changed. The Romanian industry has been formed and developed, the Romanian trade has been modernized, communications and transports have been developed, bank and credit institutions have changed, and research, school and education have another structure. I’m highlighting with pride the fact that the Bucharest Chamber has contributed to all these changes. Our institution has established some crucial institutions, without which we cannot conceive the economic life – the Stock Exchange and the Trade Register. Also, the Bucharest Chamber has connected its name to the legislation of very important laws for our national economy. The laws concerning the encouragement of the national industry, the regulation of work relations, trade brands, bankruptcy, the introduction of the postal cheque as a way of payment without cash, are only some examples which prove the uncontested role of the Bucharest Chamber in the economic development of our country. Our institution organized the first fair of national interest, established the first industrial practical school, that had its own home for students, it financed the higher economic education, and in the first half of the last century it supported and financed trade education and professional schools.
With an extremely interesting history, containing many special elements, the Bucharest Chamber, founded in 1868, 50 years before the Great Union, has proved to be sensible to the Romanian society’s deviation from democracy, its evolution reflecting the country’s history.
After the flowering period of modernization in the inter-war period, we have gone through another world conflagration, we have been touched by the plague of the communism, but we were reborn, we joined NATO and the European Union. How? The same way as in 1918: through mobilization and focusing our efforts in one direction.
Today, 100 years after the Great Union, we need once more to follow the example of our forefathers, give pride up and contribute with the best that each of us has got – managers, entrepreneurs, politicians and specialists in many sectors – for a new country project. The recovery of the economic disparities with respect to Western Europe should be the most important objective of any government that replaces the current one.
Financially, we have the objective of adopting the unique European currency, according to the Maastricht criteria: price stabilization, solid and sustainable public finances, the stability of the interest rate on long term, and the stability of the exchange rate.
At the administrative level, we speak about the transformation of a whole administration formed by hundreds of thousands of people, and its transition to a modern administration, which uses technology to facilitate the relation with the citizen.
Third, we speak about infrastructure and its stimulating effect for the economy. 100 years after the Union, the Romanian provinces are still precariously connected to each other, and this is a visible fracture in the development, but also a loss of potential felt by Romania.
Finally, we face the existing disparity in the citizen’s comfort, regarding public services, from those referring to every day’s life, to those connected to education and health infrastructure.
The future Romania is a matter of choosing and re-engineering the national mentality. Romania must start to think 100% capitalist and start to think like a big power! It has the potential, resources, the need and motivation to do this.
Romania can be an economic force of Europe, with a solid road and railway infrastructure, using intelligently its energetic resources, with a consistent category of „new wave” entrepreneurs, highly educated, open to challenges, with vision and oriented to build solid companies with growth both on horizontal and vertical, with a stock market attracting big investments both internal and from abroad and with at least one Romanian university ranked in the top 100 of the world universities. Bringing this portrait of Romania to reality it’s up to the will of the current policy makers but also up to our own involvement. Personally, I’m counting on the vision of the policy makers but even more on our society instincts and I believe, as a bet with me, that the portrait of Romania will be even more beautiful.