Ministry of Finance announced on Monday that Romanians can access a new tranche of TEZAUR government securities with one- and three-year maturities as of 18 September 2023. According to the Ministry, the annual interest rates are 6.25% and 7.10% respectively. The government bonds have a nominal value of RON 1 and are available in dematerialized form. Romanians have invested more than RON 7.56 billion in the eight editions of the program in 2023, and the total number of subscriptions has been quite consistent - over 178,000.
On Monday, 18 September, the Council of the European Union agreed to the European Commission’s proposal to provide a total of EUR 454.8 million in disaster relief aid to Romania and Italy, to repair damage inflicted by natural disasters in 2022, and to Turkey, in relation to the earthquakes in February 2023. The assistance will come from the EU’s 2023 budget. In practice, the EU will transfer money from the solidarity and emergency aid reserve in its 2023 budget to the so-called EU Solidarity Fund operational budget line, from where it can be paid to the countries that have applied for financial assistance from this fund after being struck by natural disasters, according to the press release issued by the EU Council.
A team from the International Monetary Fund, led by Jan Kees Martijn, Head of Mission for Romania, will be in Bucharest during the period 25 September-4 October 2023 for the annual review of the Romanian economy based on Article IV, the international financial institution announced in a press release. According to the cited source, such consultations take place regularly with all IMF member states. The IMF team will discuss economic policies with the Romanian authorities during meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the National Bank of Romania and other government agencies, the press release signed by Geoff Gottlieb, IMF Senior Regional Representative for Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, indicated.
Ministry of Finance borrowed RON 767 million from banks on Monday, 18 September, through a bond auction with a nominal value of RON 600 million, maturing in 2028, at an interest rate of 6.59% per year. Seven primary dealers participated in the auction. Total demand stood at RON 945.9 million, of which banks bid RON 883 million on their own behalf and non-competitive bids amounted to RON 62.9 million.
Idea Bank, a bank formerly owned by a Polish group, but which subsequently became part of Banca Transilvania, is to launch the first digital neobank in Romania at the beginning of 2024. The neobank will focus on the needs of young people from large and medium urban areas, who have several sources of income and are investment-oriented, according to Gabriela Nistor, CEO of Idea Bank.
Italian group Intesa is getting increasingly close to a deal with U.S. investment fund J.C. Flowers for the acquisition of First Bank, a transaction that, if completed, would bring Intesa among the top 10 banks on the Romanian market. At first, First Bank would be bought by Intesa Italy, and then the bank would merge with Intesa Romania, the bank owned by the Italian group in Bucharest.
UniCredit Bank has increased interest rates on euro- and dollar-denominated deposits made by individuals online, to 3% and 3.7% per year respectively. It has also raised interest rates on dollar-denominated deposits offered to micro-companies, to 3.7% per year. Retail clients who make 12-month deposits in euros benefit from 2.9% annual interest rate if deposits are made in a branch and 3.0% per year if clients opt for Mobile Banking or Online Banking.
Foerch Romania, one of the top companies selling assembly and anchoring consumables for construction, workshops and industry, part of the German giant Foerch, celebrates 15 years of presence on the local market in 2023, with a new headquarters, in Braşov, worth almost EUR 4 million. The company expects to obtain an over EUR 13 million turnover in 2023, up 10% year-on-year.
Carpathian Springs, one of the biggest natural mineral water bottlers, has recently launched a new product - AQUA Carpatica Flavours, with Christos Valvis, eldest son of Jean Valvis, creator of AQUA Carpatica, as project manager for the brand. Christos Valvis has stated that the production of AQUA Flavours is part of a larger expansion and development project, and the total amounts invested in the new factory exceeded EUR 16 million.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd announced plans to invest USD 2 billion in Turkey after the head of the company met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Friday, 15 September. Alibaba president Michael Evans stated that the company "has confidence in Turkey’s sound economic fundamentals" and had already invested USD 1.4 billion in the country through Trendyol, Turkey’s biggest e-commerce marketplace.
Mihai-Călin Precup, Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, stated on Monday, 18 September, that the Emergency Ordinance on the corporate governance of public enterprises had been revised in 2023 in order to put an end to the interim periods of office in the Boards of Directors of state-owned companies. The Secretary of State pointed out that the law currently stipulated that interim periods of office can only be extended once, and then the company was obliged to start the selection process. Moreover, the selection process will be organized by independent experts.
A draft amendment to the new Education Laws has already been submitted, targeting the academic sector. University professors can currently continue working after reaching retirement age, without any restriction, but the new draft law imposes a limit, and retired professors’ contracts can be extended for a year, depending on performance evaluation. According to the initiators, the draft law submitted to the Chamber of Deputies aims to remove a provision from the new Higher Education Law 199/2023, namely the one allowing "persons who meet the conditions for retirement upon reaching the legal age to continue working without any age limit".
European Parliament lawmakers have cautiously welcomed the European Commission president’s latest defence strategy announcement as a step in the right direction but stressed the need to have sufficient funding and member states on board. Adding an extra layer to the many existing short-term programs and funds to boost the defence industrial base in Europe, Ursula von der Leyen announced a European Defence Industry Strategy in her State of the Union speech last Wednesday (13 September). According to Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, it will include a Defence Production Act and the European Defence Investment Plan (EDIP).
Pre-school children and pupils will be able to receive educational social vouchers as support in the school year 2023-2024 as well, according to a draft normative act put up for public debate, initiated by the Ministry of Investments and European Projects (MIPE). The value of a voucher is RON 500, which is paid only once during the school year. The draft act’s explanatory memorandum indicates that about 410,000 underprivileged pre-school, primary and secondary school pupils in the public education system will benefit from support through this measure.
Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu has announced that the value of food vouchers will increase to RON 40 starting from 1 January. He has pointed out that public sector employees earning more than RON 8,000 net will no longer receive food vouchers. The Prime Minister has also indicated that there are some problems with the food vouchers, specifically with the commissions charged by the companies issuing such vouchers. In August, the value of food vouchers was increased to RON 35.
The Secretary General of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Lucian Bode, announced on Monday, 18 September, referring to the drug use situation, that he had called for the creation of a therapeutic community targeting the social reinsertion of drug users, as one must start from the idea that drug users were sick persons. Thus, one solution proposed by PNL would be to set up eight regional centers whose financing can be ensured from non-reimbursable European funds and through government programs, where non-governmental organizations and medical care centers could be eligible.