TALKS The government of Romania will hold talks this week on the 2021 state budget. According to Liberal Prime Minister Florin Citu, the budget is going to be based on a 7% deficit and will be submitted for Parliament approval by the end of the month. According to the Prime Minister, the 7% target is proof of the firm commitment to fiscal consolidation without hindering the economy. The budget will allow for an extension to June 30th of economic measures triggered by the pandemic, including compensations to employees during the suspension of employment and financial support for employers. A state aid scheme for the hospitality industry and travel agencies, totalling 500 million euros and financed from EU funds, will also be in place. The government might also discuss this week a bill raising the national minimum wage, while all wages in state-owned companies are to be frozen at the level of December 2020.
COVID-19 - In the past 24 hours Romania has reported over 3,100 fresh cases of Covid-19 infections, out of 10,000 tests carried out nationwide, the Strategic Communication Group announced on Monday. Roughly 644,000 people have been infected with the virus since the first case was reported in Romania in February last year. Out of these, 577,000 have recovered. Another 78 people died to the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll since the onset of the pandemic to 16,057. 1,100 are in intensive care and the authorities are bracing up for a new wave of infections after the winter holidays. According to Raed Arafat, head of the Department for Emergency Situations, although the immunization campaign in Romania has commenced, prevention measures, like face covering, hand washing and social distancing remain mandatory. The vaccination campaign has been extended in Romania, which is to activate over 90% of the 376 centres for healthcare personnel and care centres. Nearly 13,500 medical workers were immunized in the first week since the vaccine was brought to Romania, with authorities targeting a daily 20,000 vaccination rate in the forthcoming period. The coordinator of the vaccination programme, Valeriu Gheorghiţă, says the second stage of the programme, targeting patients in care centres, may be initiated in mid-January.
FLIGHTS The National Committee for Emergency Situations in Romania has updated their list of countries and areas in the COVID-19 red zone and decided to resume flights to and from the UK. People coming to Romania from this country are to isolate themselves for 10 days and must have taken a Covid-19 test at least 48 hours before their arrival. Flights to the UK were suspended on December 20th after a fresh, more contagious virus strain had been discovered in Britain. Italy has been included on the list of countries with a higher risk of transmission.
AUTOMOTIVE The number of new car registrations went up 16% in Romania in December 2020 compared to December 2019, to 15,974 units, according to the Romanian Association of Automotive Makers (ACAROM). However, for the entire year 2020 the number dropped by 22%. As regards used vehicles registered in Romania for the first time, the number dropped by 5% in December 2020 compared to 2019, to 34,174 units. The best selling new cars in Romania in 2020 are Dacia, followed by Skoda, Renault, Volkswagen and Ford.
ENERGY The European Commission Monday greenlighted the acquisition by the Europe Division of MIRA investment fund (Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets) of electricity production and supply assets held by the Czech group CEZ. In October 2020, CEZ Group announced the sale of its assets in Romania to MIRA, the world’s largest infrastructure management company. The transaction involved 7 companies, including electricity distribution and supply networks and Europe’s largest onshore wind farm, in Fântânele – Cogealac (south-eastern Romania).
SAVINGS Four out of ten Romanians managed to save during the pandemic, as compared to two-thirds before. A survey conducted by the Romanian Research and Strategy Institute (IRES), and commissioned by the Romanian Banks Association, also shows that two-thirds of the household and corporate savings are in the local currency, mostly in short-term deposits. According to the survey, if they had money to spare, 28% of Romanians would invest in their or their family’s education, 23% would keep the money in banks, 16% would start up a company and 10% would buy hard currency. The poll was conducted in December 2020.
AIR FORCES MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft and around 90 US Air Force personnel are deployed for the next few months to 'Gen. Emanoil Ionescu' 71st Air Base in Câmpia Turzii, north-western Romania. According to the Romanian Defence Ministry, the Romanian Air Forces will provide technical, logistic and operational support to the MQ-9 Reapers’ intelligence, surveillance and recon missions as part of NATO operations. The US-Romanian cooperation is designed to strengthen the defence capacity and enhance security in the region. (tr. A. M. Popescu)