The Government cannot freeze the retailers' prices ahead of the VAT rate cut, but it can use constitutional and European measures, such as windfall taxes, in order to force retailers to bring shelf prices down, according to Prime Minister Victor Ponta. The PM instructed the Competition Council and the National Consumers' Protection Authority (ANPC) to keep a close eye on shelf prices.
The Cabinet approved on Wednesday the allocation of RON 415 million in privatization revenues to the Management Authorities in charge of the structural funds programs. More than half of the money will go to the Economic Competitiveness Program (POS-CCE), while the rest will be split equally between the Human Resources Development (POS-DRU) and Regional (POS-R) programs.
Mugur Isarescu, Governor of the National Bank of Romania (BNR), stated that Romania must complete major economic policy adjustments before joining exchange rates mechanism, which precedes a country's accession to the Eurozone. Among the major economic policy adjustments are the energy market's deregulation, the minimum mandatory reserves and various budget pressures.
Nextebank is preparing to take over Patria Credit IFN's assets and personnel even though the Competition Council has yet to approve the merger. The Nextebank board is expected to meet today and on Monday to discuss the situation and the fact that Nextebank cannot take any action that would affect the market until the CC approval comes through. Nicolae Cinteza, head of BNR's Supervisory Division, announced that Nextebank had taken over Patria Credit's liabilities and that it had notified the BNR of this move.
The aggregated value of RON-denominated consumer loans (including credit cards and overdrafts) reached RON 30.6 billion at the end of March, up RON 300 million month-on-month and the first m-o-m increase this year, according to the National Bank of Romania (BNR). "The consumer loans market is growing. Banks have started approving bigger tickets, even some in the EUR 10,000-15,000 range," said Gabriel Cretu, Managing Partner of Adwisers.
The Timisoara City Hall secure EUR 470,000 in European funds for the rehabilitation of the Justitie Park's green areas and technical infrastructure. 1,577 sqm of lanes and alleys will be modernized and 53 new trees will be planted. An irrigation system will be put in place and the authorities will install more benches, waste containers and lights powered by solar cells.
The President's office sent the Parliament caucuses the draft of a new data retention bill, also known as the Big Brother Law. The parties were given two weeks to reach a consensus regarding the draft, which involved representatives of CJI, Active Watch and other NGOs.
The Chamber of Deputies decided yesterday to send the party financing and party bills to the Electoral Code Commission because of discrepancies between the bill reported out by the Commission and the one that reached the floor. "We've noticed a series of articles that had not been discussed by the commission," said Marian Neacsu, leader of the PSD caucus.
Even though the ruling coalition enjoys the same support in the Parliament as before the presidential elections, backstage maneuvering is frenetic. The Romanian Social Party (PSRO), founded by Mircea Geoana, will sign today a cooperation agreement with the National Liberal Party (PNL), which involves full cooperation of the two parties' MPs.
Most town halls, prefectures and county councils around the country will be closed today, as 30,000 public employees go on a one-day strike. The labor leaders announced that every public institution will have one or two offices open for emergencies and warned the government that the strike would be followed by street protests and bigger strikes unless their demands are met. The only documents that public clerks will issue today are death and marital status certificates.