Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  1. Romania continues to register just over 10,000 new cases in the past 24 hours: 10,108 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Romania in the past 24 hours, out of 36,963 tests. 167 Romanians infected with the novel coronavirus have died in the past 24 hours, while 1,131 infected patients are in intensive care. Most new cases in the last 24 hours were registered in Bucharest (1,473), Cluj (734), Constanta (484), Arges (446),  Ilfov (441), Prahova (424), Iasi (409) and Mures (401). The counties with the highest incidence rate per 1,000 inhabitants are: Sibiu (9.06), Cluj (7.64), Ilfov (6.78), Brasov (6.4), Timis (6.33) and Alba (6.21). Bucharest has an incidence rate of 5.66. Constanta is the newest city to enter quarantine, effective from Friday evening or the next day, according to Constanta Prefect Silviu Coșa.

 

Political and regulatory

 

  1. Romania to add 280 intensive care beds: The Health Ministry is working on making 280 new intensive care beds available in local hospitals over the next 7 to 21 days, health minister Nelu Tătaru said at the beginning of the Government’s meeting on November 18. “After evaluating every venue […], we will also assess the endowment and staff needs to be able to make these beds available within 7 to 21 days,” Tătaru said. He also explained that the first results of the evaluation of the local hospitals and their intensive care units would be available at the end of the week. The assessment was started after ten Covid-19 patients died in a fire at the intensive care unit of the Piatra Neamț County Hospital, in northeastern Romania, on November 14. The minister said every hospital would receive a set of measures to implement after the evaluation.
  2. RO PM: Reintroducing the state of emergency not on the table: The authorities are not considering reintroducing the state of emergency as the state of alert provides enough mechanisms to manage the sanitary crisis, PM Ludovic Orban told television station Romania Tv. “The state of emergency offers little additional measures to the state of alert,” the PM said.   “The state of emergency is not under discussion,” he said, while appealing to mayors to work with the central authorities in implementing the measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19. “We have an issue with the mayors: we cannot, for instance, suspend the authorization of a terrace that is not complying with the rules. The mayors issue the authorizations, and I have asked prefects to request the support of the mayors. The mayors need to get involved and use the available mechanisms […] to issue sanctions against those disregarding the rules,” Orban said. The PM also said that classes would be held online until the number of daily Covid-19 cases drops significantly. The Prime Minister also said that he considers that he has no reason to resign after the fire in the northeastern Piatra Neamt hospital, saying that what happened “is related to the management of a hospital and the decisions that have been linked to the operation of an intensive care unit”. The prime minister said that he presented in the first reading an emergency ordinance through which a minimum amount of 50 million euros will be allocated to finance the modernization works of the hospitals facilities.
  3. PM Orban: There is an anti-COVID vaccine; it’s clear that it can solve the coronavirus epidemic: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Wednesday announced, at the beginning of the Government meeting, that there is an anti-COVID vaccine, which is “a definite chance to solve this serious coronavirus epidemic.” “We need to be prepared, to organize ourselves, in order to be able to start the vaccination campaign as soon as we can access, basically, the first quantities that are distributed to us by the vaccine,” said Ludovic Orban. He said there was an agreement at European level on contracting the amount of vaccine doses, stating that all quantities are distributed in proportion to the population of each EU member state. He reiterated this aspect later on Romania TV, where he said that “it is possible that the first quantities of the vaccine will arrive as early as December”. “It is possible that the first quantities will arrive in December. First by priority are the medical staff, the vulnerable people. Vaccination is not mandatory, but it is free. The vaccine is given twice, every 20 days. If I told you we were ready, I would be lying! We are preparing, no country is ready. The storage, the syringes, the medical staff must be prepared, it’s a matter of logistics”, said Ludovic Orban. He denied rumors that people working in ministers would have priority for vaccination. Ludovic Orban claimed that the document that circulated in the press – according to which a prioritization would have been established – was a memo from the Ministry of Health that aimed at evaluating the acceptance rate for the vaccine.
  4. RO president promises to rebuild hospitals “immediately after we get majority in Parliament”: Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis announced that the (Liberal) Government would start the reconstruction of the local healthcare system from scratch, “as soon as we have a new majority in Parliament, responsible and fully committed to the good of Romanians.” The head of the opposition, Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Marcel Ciolacu came up again with the proposal for a bipartisan agreement to secure the medical system’s development irrespective of the party that wins the elections on December 6, Hotnews.ro reported. President Iohannis, who is among those invited by Ciolacu to sign the agreement, has not commented on this matter. The president’s meeting with Government and healthcare system representatives on November 18 was dedicated to the medical equipment and electricity networks in public hospitals – the most likely cause of the fire at the Piatra Neamt county hospital. “First of all, it is necessary to modernize the gas systems, especially for oxygen supply, and electricity networks. Here we found the solution of preparing a well-developed financing program, using European funds, a very valuable and handy resource for the development of the Romanian medical system,” President Iohannis said. Secondly, the Government will redesign the legislative and financial instruments related to the service system and hospital equipment maintenance. The president said that the health reform laws to be drafted by the Health Ministry would include all these issues.
  5. RO Govt. prepares EUR 100 mln grants for cultural sector: Romanian deputy prime minister Raluca Turcan announced on Wednesday, November 18, that the Government prepared a EUR 100 million grant program dedicated to the cultural sectors, Mediafax reported. With this program, the Government aims to help bookstores, publishing houses, festival and cultural event organizers. The program, announced by Turcan together with culture minister Bogdan Gheorghiu and Bucharest mayor Nicusor Dan, adds to the other state aid extended so far to this sector. There will be two types of grants, namely EUR 4,000 microgrants and grants of up to EUR 800,000 per recipient (a limit set under the European Union’s regulations) calculated based on the recipient’s revenues in 2019. NGOs and companies (irrespective of their size) are eligible.
  6. Minister Ciuca participates in “Roadmap to Warsaw Security Forum”: Minister of National Defence Nicolae Ciuca on Wednesday participated in the International Conference “Roadmap to Warsaw Security Forum,” an event organized online by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, in cooperation with NATO. The Romanian Minister reviewed the current stage of military equipment acquisitions, giving as an example the high-tech programmes HIMARS and PATRIOT, while underscoring in the same context the political commitment of Romania to allocate 2pct of its GDP.
  7. UDMR releases raft of pandemic management, economic recovery measures: Economy, developing the capacity of the healthcare system, and education are three main areas that are included in the raft of measures for pandemic management and economic recovery released launched on Wednesday by the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR). UDMR national leader Kelemen Hunor told a news conference that the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting, and the Government’s measures “are often unfounded, lacking boldness, without vision and most of the time there are not good measures.”
  8. Maia Sandu meets Romanian Ambassador to Republic of Moldova: President-elect of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu on Wednesday met Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Moldova Daniel Ionita, the Action and Solidarity Party informed. “I really want to resume as soon as possible the projects started by our team in government in partnership with the Romanian Government, namely infrastructure projects, including in the energy field. We also need additional support to overcome the pandemic,” Sandu added. She promised to make every effort to ensure that the Republic of Moldova “has an independent judiciary, cleanses itself of corrupt judges and prosecutors and starts the engines of the economy for a good life at home, learning from Romania’s experience and with the support of Romanian partners.”
  9. Foreign Affairs Ministry: Proposal to include debate on Black Sea region conflicts on FAC agenda: Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu addressed on Thursday the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, a letter co-signed by his counterparts from 10 EU member states – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden – proposing the inclusion on the agenda of a forthcoming Foreign Affairs Council meeting, as a separate item, of an “in-depth” discussion on the EU’s role in resolving protracted/frozen conflicts in its Eastern neighborhood/the Black Sea region.
  10. Orban – consultations with small agricultural producers: Closed markets to be reopened as soon as epidemiological conditions allow: The activity of the closed markets will be resumed as soon as the epidemiological conditions allow it and under conditions of sanitary security for the citizens, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban informed during the consultations he had, on Wednesday, with Agriculture Minister Adrian Oros, with the representatives of the associations of vegetable growers, small producers and beekeepers from Romania, according to AGERPRES.
  11. First integrated transplant center in Romania, South-Eastern Europe to open in Cluj-Napoca on 90-million-euro investment: An integrated transplant center, the first in Romania and South-Eastern Europe, is to be set up in the Romanian northeastern city of Cluj-Napoca on an investment of approximately 90 million euros, according to AGERPRES.
  12. Ludovic Orban, in an interview for AFP: Hungarian and Polish blockade “negatively affects entire EU”: Hungary and Poland blockade of the EU relaunch plan “negatively affects the entire European Union”, Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said in an interview for AFP on Thursday, a few hours before a European summit, according to AGERPRES. “It is in everyone’s interest that the relaunch plan be adopted as soon as possible, because it will benefit every Hungarian citizen, just like every citizen of any other country,” the premier said.
  13. PM Orban: Field of research and design deserves more attention and resources: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban sent a message on Thursday on the occasion of Researcher and Designer Day in Romania, stressing that this field of activity is “fundamental” for the sustainable transformation of society and, therefore, requires the allocation of more resources, according to AGERPRES. According to him, scientific research and technological development are among the areas considered a priority by the current government team, as demonstrated by the additional allocation at this summer’s budget revision of 200 million lei, aimed at financing exploratory research projects under the National Plan for Research, Development and Innovation III. “We will further this direction also within the Liberal governing program that we will launch and present today, which envisages reaching the target of 2% of GDP by 2024 for research and innovation (1% public funding + 1% private funding), with ensuring a balanced budgetary distribution, destined to support both the applied research and innovation, as well as the fundamental and exploratory research, with emphasis on the fields of smart specialization with growth potential,” communicated the prime minister.
  14. PNL – ruling programme: Pension point’s increase, 3 regional hospitals, mail vote in country: An average net salary of 1,000 euro in 2024, increasing the value of the pension point, doubling the child allowances until 2022, postponing the rates until 1 July 2021, carrying out three regional hospitals in Iasi, Cluj and Craiova, extending the postal vote in the country, starting the process of revision of the Constitution, disbanding the Special Section for Magistrates are among the National Liberal Party (PNL)’s proposals in the governing program “Develop Romania”, according to AGERPRES. The PNL will present on Thursday the ruling programme “Develop Romania”, which contains the Liberal vision and priority objectives for the next four years. “We are achieving the highest economic growth in the European Union in the next 4 years, with an increase rate of more than 6 pct in 2024; We are increasing Romania’s GDP by over 450 billion lei to over 1,500 billion lei at the end of 2024; GDP per capita in Romania will exceed 85 pct of the EU27 average at the end of 2024,” the document says. The Liberals argue that the average net salary will increase by almost 50 pct from the 2020 level and reach 1,000 euro per month in 2024. With regard to foreign policy, the Liberals show that they will continue to work for Romania’s accession to the Schengen area and for accession to the Euro area, and as to Defence – ensuring at least 2 pct of GDP for this area, of which at least 20 pct for endowment and modernisation, respectively 2 pct for research, development and innovation.
  15. Supply of remote medical services, through telemedicine, approved by the Government: The Executive approved the Emergency Ordinance to complete Law no. 95/2006 on healthcare reform, which regulates the possibility of providing remote medical services, through telemedicine, by all health professionals. The services that can be provided through telemedicine are: a) teleconsultation; b) tele-expertise; c) telecare; d) teleradiology; e) telepathology; f) telemonitoring.

 

Impact on the economy

  1. Brazilian group Stefanini redesigns FAN Courier’s internal application: Brazilian IT services company Stefanini, though its Romanian subsidiary, has completely redesigned the delivery application used by the biggest local courier company – Fan Courier. The new application allows Fan Courier’s delivery crews to generate instant AWBs, which was impossible in the past and significantly increased delivery time. “The project of redesigning a courier application for the largest company in Romania and having it ready by Black Friday, the year’s peak shopping event, was a challenge,” said Florin Stefan, Operations Director of the Application Development Division within Stefanini EMEA. Large courier firms in Romania have made significant investments this year to prepare for Black Friday and cope with the increased volume of online shopping generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. US BPO group Computer Generated Solutions hires 500 more in Romania: The US outsourcing company Computer Generated Solutions (CGS), one of the leaders of the local business process outsourcing (BPO) market, has increased its team in Romania with 500 new employees this year. The most recruitments took place in the Brasov and Bucharest centers, followed by Galati, Sibiu, and Targu Jiu.
  3. Cognizant’s Romanian division hires 400 more engineers this year: Cluj-Napoca based software developer Cognizant Softvision, founded by local entrepreneur Laurentiu Russo in 1994 and bought by the US group Cognizant in 2018, has reached 2,000 employees after it hired 400 software engineers this year and opened new studios in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iasi, and Baia Mare.
  4. RO entrepreneurs launch free crowdfunding platform for social and creative startups: The team behind the fonduri-structurale.ro website, with an experience of 14 years in providing information and advice on non-reimbursable financing, launched consolid8 – the first reward-based crowdfunding platform dedicated to financing social startups and those in the creative industries in Romania. Social entrepreneurs and startups in creative industries can run financing campaigns on consolid8 if their business ideas generate value for the community.
  5. Romanian owner to sell child car seats business to Swedish group: Swedish group Holmbergs Safety Systems is reportedly in talks to buy Te-Rox Prod, one of Europe’s biggest child car seat producers, from its Romanian founder and owner, Doina Cepalis. The entrepreneur owns the Te-Rox group of companies that produce car seats for children, mostly for export. Te-Rox group consists of three companies that manage four production units in the eastern part of Romania (in Neamt, Iasi, and Botosani counties).
  6. RO will cancel CO2 subsidies for industrial groups that cut employment by over 5%: Romania refused to pay the promised CO2 subsidies to “two to three” large industrial consumers that reduced employment. The authorities will withdraw the subsidies for the recipients that cut their workforce during the program’s three-year period, minister of economy and energy Virgil Popescu said, quoted by Profit.ro. Under a scheme approved by the European Commission, the Romanian Government will disburse EUR 291 million subsidies to companies in energy-intensive, to cover part of their expenditures related to the purchase of green certificates. Specifically, the financial support will cover 75% of the eligible costs. The state aid aims to help companies operating in sectors such as aluminum and steel production, including seamless steel pipes, as well as the chemical and petrochemical industry.
  7. RO minister: Romgaz has the power to buy Exxon’s stake in Neptun Deep: Romanian state-controlled natural gas company Romgaz (SNN) is solvent enough to acquire the US group ExxonMobil’s 50% stake in the Neptun Deep offshore project in the Black Sea, affirmed the minister of economy and energy Virgil Popescu, quoted by Hotnews.ro. He claims that Romgaz has a financing capacity “maybe even bigger than OMV Petrom,” which is the biggest Romanian energy company and holds the remaining 50% in the Neptun Deep project.
  8. Minister of Economy: First companies to receive money from gov’t as grants in the next three days: The first companies to receive money in the next three days from the government as grants for their problems generated by the Covid-19 crisis were announced on Wednesday by the Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, Virgil Popescu, in a press conference. “Today [Wednesday – editor’s note] we have on the government’s agenda the emergency ordinance which will supplement from one billion to 1.5 billion euros the budget for the grants offered to SMEs under the three measures, so that all those who submitted applications under measure 1 and measure 2 can be financed,” said Popescu. He said that more than 29,000 companies had registered for measure 1 and more than 22,000 for measure 2. He pointed out that this is the second ambitious IT application of the ministry, after the certificates for emergency situations. Next week, after the modification of GEO 130, measure 3, the one regarding investments, will also be launched, the minister added.
  9. RO state forecasting body projects 4.5% GDP growth next year: Romania’s National Commission for Strategy and Prognosis (CNP), under its latest forecast issued on November 18, projects a robust 4.5% GDP growth next year that would fully offset the 4.2% decline this year. In absolute values, Romania’s GDP will hit RON 1.14 billion (EUR 232 bln) next year, up from RON 1.05 bln (EUR 217 bln) this year. The average consumer price inflation should ease to 2.3% next year from 2.7% in 2020 and 3.3% in 2019 – although the GDP deflator is expected to stay flat at 3.4% in 2020-2021. The EU funds are probably behind the more optimistic projection for the current account gap seen by CNP at 4.5% of GDP next year, down from 4.6% of GDP this year and 4.7% of GDP in 2019.
  10. EC: RO needs structural actions to curb public deficit even under best-case scenario: Based on the European Commission’s 2020 autumn forecast and the analysis of recent macroeconomic and budgetary developments, Romania is unlikely to make the adjustments that would be necessary to ensure that the excessive deficit identified in the April Recommendation is corrected in the foreseeable future, the EC concluded in its November 18 communication on the fiscal situation in Romania. Even if they manage to reverse the 40% pension hike and the doubling of child allowances, the Romanian authorities will still need to consider substantial structural actions on both the revenue and expenditure sides to set the deficit on a declining path and prevent a steep increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio, the EC says. The EC had placed Romania under the excessive deficit procedure (EDP) in April 2020, but postponed any further steps, due to the current high uncertainty caused by the pandemic. It will reassess fiscal sustainability risks in spring 2021.
  11. President of the Competition Council: ‘Freezing prices would have led to a catastrophe, lack of food and queues in shops, like in the communism’: At the beginning of the pandemic there was a real danger that prices would be frozen, but this would have led to a catastrophe and the appearance of a situation similar to that during the communism, when there was no food and queues formed in shops, said on Thursday, Bogdan Chiritoiu, president of the Competition Council. He participated in the conference “Evolution of the economy in key sectors 2020”, organized by the Competition Council and PRIA Events, according to agerpres.ro. “Despite all this pressure, with panic among the population, the sector worked, we did not end up with shortages or very high prices, which shows us the resilience of the sector. Here I am proud that we also contributed to calming the spirits,” he said. According to him, there was a discussion among the authorities on whether it was a good ideea to cap prices, but fortunately no such measure was taken. According to him, the Competition Council had real-time data on the evolution of the prices of the main food products in the Food Price Monitor database, and this helped the authorities to make wise decisions. At the same event, Raiffeisen Bank lead economist, Ionut Dumitru, estimated that Romania will end this year with a budget deficit of 9.5% and that there is a risk that the value of the indicator will be even higher than this forecast, due to the impact of the pandemic on the economy. “The burden of public spending is quite high, we have high spending on wages and social assistance. Wages are close to 12% of GDP, compared to the European average of 10%, given that tax revenues in Romania are 27% of GDP, versus the European average of 40% of GDP. In total, the social bill has a very high level, consuming almost all revenues from taxes and duties,” the banker said.
  12. Multinationals say the regulations proposed by the OECD may lead to an increase of their tax burden: More than 60% of multinationals worldwide estimate a possible increase in their corporate tax burden as a result of the implementation of the reform announced by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at the beginning of this year, based on two pillars, taxation of the digital economy (Pillar I) and minimum corporate taxation (Pillar II). According to the Deloitte 2020 Global BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Survey, 44% of the companies expect a global consensus on digital economy taxation to be achieved as a result of the measures proposed by OECD and almost 40% of them agree that their organization will be affected if a revenue-based digital services tax is introduced in the country where their customers are located.
  13. Romanian food enters the shelves of Lidl stores in Europe in larger quantities: German retailer Lidl facilitated the export of Romanian products worth 59 million euros in 2019, twice as much compared to the previous year. However, the company is also in the top importers of agri-food products in Romania, being also the largest importer of milk and dairy products in the country.
  14. Valentin Lazea, BNR, on solutions to cut spending: The 4-day working week for public servants and a 20% pay cut: The chief economist of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) says the state must reduce the budget deficit starting next year, which would remain particularly high compared to the region, and that measures are needed on both the revenue and expenditure side. The work schedule of public servants should be reduced by one-fifth, with the corresponding reduction in salaries, and employment should be semi-frozen. “It is not at all normal for the average salary in the budget sector to be higher than in the private sector,” says Lazea. Without adjustment measures, the budget deficit will exceed 8% of gross domestic product next year, after this year it is forecast by the Government at over 9%, warned Valentin Lazea in a video conference organized by the Fiscal Council and Alexander I. Cuza University in Iași. This situation would highlight Romania negatively in the European Union, given that, for example, the Czech Republic proposes a deficit of 4.9% of the GDP next year, and Bulgaria one of 2.9% of the GDP.
  15. The European Commission wants to increase Europe’s offshore wind capacity 25-fold: The European Commission presented on Thursday the “EU Strategy for Offshore Renewable Energy”, which proposes to increase Europe’s offshore wind capacity from the current level of 12 GW to a level of at least 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050, according to a statement from the Community Executive.
  16. Six out of ten Romanians participating in a survey expect to spend less money for the winter holidays: Over 60% of Romanian respondents expect to spend less money for the Christmas and New Year holidays this year, according to an international survey in five European countries (Germany, Romania, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands) conducted by ING. Romanians are in first place, along with Spaniards, in terms of plans to reduce holiday spending, followed by the Poles (45%), Dutch (32%) and Germans (31%).