Economic sentiment is slightly improving in Central Europe, even though risks such as inflation, supply chain problems and rising energy, raw material and labor costs continue to affect companies, according to the Deloitte Private Equity (PE) Confidence Survey. The analysis also indicates that 79% of participants expect the economic context to worsen in the following months, down from 86% in the summer of 2022.
Industrial production decreased by 5.4% on a gross basis and by 6.1% on a working-day and seasonally adjusted basis in January 2023 year-on-year, according to data published by the National Institute of Statistics on Tuesday, 14 March. However, production grew both as a gross series (3.5%) and as a working-day and seasonally adjusted series (2%) in January 2023 compared to December 2022.
Reducing indoor climate risks could bring EUR 6.3 billion economic benefits to Romania by 2050, while all EU member states could save up to EUR 608 billion, according to the Healthy Homes Barometer 2022 study conducted by windows manufacturer Velux in collaboration with research company RAND Europe. The study indicates that unhealthy buildings leave huge environmental footprints and are costly to the whole community, not only through wasted energy, but also through increased healthcare costs and decreased productivity.
New RON-denominated corporate loans resumed growth at the beginning of the year, having exceeded RON 3 billion in January, after having dropped below this level in the last quarter of 2022, following the increase in interest rates, the inflation, the war at the border and the uncertain economic context, which impacted companies’ plans to invest using RON-denominated financing from banks. Banks on the Romanian market granted RON 3.3 billion new RON-denominated corporate loans in January 2023, up by 17.9% both against the level in December 2022 and the volume recorded in January 2022.
Libra Internet Bank’s shareholders approved, during the General Meeting, the re-election of Radu Ghetea, Ionel Umbres, Emilian Bituleanu and Eugen Goga as directors of the bank, for a four year period, until 2027. The terms of the four directors expire in 2023. Radu Ghetea is Chairman of Libra Internet Bank’s Board of Directors and Honorary President of the Romanian Association of Banks. Prior to this, he was also President of Alpha Bank Romania in 2007 and President and CEO of CEC Bank from 2007 to 2018.
Galati County will have the largest wind farm in Romania. The company Hoopeks International has obtained the technical approval for connecting a 629 MW wind power project to the national power grid. The investment amounts to EUR 500 million. The wind farm would spread on about 13,000 hectares. An important first step within the project has already been taken as the County Council has approved the preliminary study.
Raiffeisen Bank International and Raiffeisen Bank Romania have granted a EUR 40.5 million loan to a company part of the Shikun and Binui Energy group from Israel for the construction of a photovoltaic power plant with a total installed capacity of about 70 MW in Satu Mare. Design works and the procurement of the main equipment have already started and commissioning is planned for the second quarter of 2024, according to a press release issued by Raiffeisen Bank.
Volkswagen Group’s financial situation is very good, the company’s CEO Oliver Blume and CFO Arno Antlitz announced during the group’s annual conference. With the help of Porsche listing, which has entailed a strong increase in liquidity, VW AG wants to massively invest in profitable growth directions. The next four years will bring EUR 180 billion investments for Volkswagen AG, especially in the electrification and digitalization areas. The battery production strategy is the main direction of investments, but also the expansion of the company’s presence in North America, where a batteries plant and at least one automotive plant will be built.
Poultry meat producer Oncos Transilvania from Cluj County has finalized a EUR 500,000 investment in a smart lighting project carried out in partnership with E.ON Energie Romania, implemented in 45 of the company’s units in Cluj and Sălaj Counties. The new system will reduce energy consumption by more than 70% and the carbon footprint by more than 230 tons/year. The traditional lighting fixtures in the 45 units in Corușu, Gilău, Jucu, Lomb (Cluj County) and Panic (Sălaj County) farms have been replaced with 1,800 modern lighting systems with built-in LEDs.
The Senate voted, during the plenary session on Tuesday, with 80 votes in favor, no votes against and 13 abstentions, the amendment to the Whistleblowers Law, necessary following the European Commission’s request, in order to unblock payment request number 2 of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). The Senate is the first notified chamber and the amendment will now be sent to the Chamber of Deputies for a final vote.
The Chamber of Deputies has adopted, as the decision-making body, a draft law approving Government Emergency Ordinance 77/2021, which establishes the National Forestry Guard, by reorganizing the current Forestry Guards, according to their main duties, namely, the control of the forestry and hunting regime and the endorsement and implementation activities. Each of the Forest Guards, as set out in the Annex, shall be led by a Chief Inspector, a senior civil servant, who has the status of tertiary authorizing officer.
The Chamber of Deputies has adopted, as the decision-making body, a draft law aimed at preventing the deterioration of rolling stock, a component of county roads, as well as at preventing the degradation of public space next to the roadway and parking spaces. According to the draft law, local public authorities have the obligation to maintain ditches, gutters, bridges, plantations, pavements, platforms and the like located on public road sections crossing rural localities. The law will now be sent to promulgation.
The Chamber of Deputies has adopted, as the decision-making body, a draft law approving the signing of the Support Agreement between the Romanian State and Societatea Națională Nuclearelectrica S.A. for the Project of Units 3 and 4 from Cernavodă Nuclear Power Plant. The law will now be sent for promulgation. According to the explanatory memorandum, the Agreement aims to establish the effective methods of cooperation between the parties, by setting certain commitments and obligations for the Romanian State, regarding the implementation of the necessary measures in order to ensure the financing of the project, the implementation of support measures, including legislative measures.
EU finance ministers agreed on a common position for reforming European fiscal rules, closely aligning themselves with the European Commission’s approach of focusing on medium-term country-specific fiscal plans. While the reference values from the EU treaties remain unchanged – at a maximum public deficit of 3% of GDP and a debt level of 60% of GDP – the 60% rule will be less relevant and the rules will be accompanied by medium-term plans that should enable more investments.
Food vouchers, gift vouchers, cultural vouchers, as well as nursery and holiday vouchers could be granted in virtual format as well, not just electronically on a physical support, according to a draft law submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, 14 March. Liberal (PNL) MP Maria Gabriela Horga has stated that introducing the possibility of issuing virtual value cards will also have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the production of plastic, reducing the resources used to transport physical cards and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Minister of Investments and European Projects Marcel Boloş stated on Tuesday, 14 March, that the increase in the retirement age was stipulated in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), pointing out that a decision would be made within the ruling coalition, given that it is a milestone with "extremely high impact" on the population. Former Labor Minister Raluca Turcan has pointed out that there is no draft law proposing an increase in the retirement age in Romania.