Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Romania logs more than 1,100 coronavirus cases in 24 hours: Romania added 1,136 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 97,033 on Tuesday, September 8, according to the daily report released at 13:00. Of the total cases, 40,838 patients have recovered, while 12,590 asymptomatic patients were discharged ten days after the diagnosis.  Forty-one coronavirus patients died in the past 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 3,967 since the start of the pandemic. At the same time, 7,199 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospitals in the country, 460 of them to intensive care units. By September 8, 1,966,290 tests were carried out, 20,552 of them in the past 24 hours. Most new cases in the last 24 hours were registered in Bucharest (257), with a notable spike in Ilfov county (63).

 

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • RO Liberals promise not to change the fiscal system: Romania’s fiscal system is competitive, and the Government doesn’t intend to change it, prime minister Ludovic Orban stated. “The Romanian tax system is competitive and attractive to investors. We do not intend to change it. We want to secure economic growth, which automatically leads to higher incomes. Of course, we need to keep spending at an acceptable level. We are also preparing to use European funds to support in particular those expenses that can be financed from European funds,” said the prime minister, at the end of a meeting with the National Liberal Party’s campaign team, quoted by Wall-street.ro. The prime minister’s statements come against the background of the sharp increase in the budget deficit, caused by lower tax revenues and higher public expenditures.
  • Opposition alters significantly RO Govt.’s budget revision in Parliament: The Romanian Parliament’s labor expert committees altered the Government’s draft law on budget revision. The committees operated changes that would force the Government to rise public pensions by 40% as of September (instead of 14% stipulated in the budget revision bill) and increase school teachers’ wages this year instead of January 2021. The changes will be further debated by the budget expert committees, which will prepare the final report of the budget rectification that will be voted in a joint sitting of the two chambers, Hotnews.ro reported. If PSD passes the budget rectification as amended by the committees, president Klaus Iohannis will have the option to send the law back to re-examination or attack it at the Constitutional Court.
  • Ponta: I am absolutely convinced Romanians’ priority at this time is not elections: The chairman of the Pro Romania party, Victor Ponta, stated on Tuesday, in northeastern Iasi, that elections are not the priority of Romanians at this time, but the risks to their health represented by the COVID-19 pandemic. He believes the current government is intentionally refusing to increase the testing capacity in the public system, discouraging people to test themselves, which made Romania be at the top of the rankings of persons confirmed positive over tests. Pro Romania leader Victor Ponta announced Monday on Facebook that the result of his coronavirus test is negative.
  • Tariceanu: Special booth for mild states of fever – discouragement of vulnerable groups from going to polls: Chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Calin Popescu-Tariceanu considers that the introduction of special voting booths for those with mild states of fever will “discourage, through panic”, those from vulnerable categories from going to the polls.
  • FinMin Citu: To ensure rapid recovery of economy fiscal, monetary policies need to work together: Investments had a positive contribution to the economic growth of 0.4 percentage points in the second quarter, and the net median nominal wage has increased in July by 8.1 pct, over July 2019, yet, in order to maintain rhythm and to ensure a rapid recovery of the economy, it’s necessary that the fiscal and monetary policies work together, states the Minister of Finance, Florin Citu. Florin Citu emphasized that the fiscal space is limited, but there is room for relaxation on the monetary policy side, both in incomes as well as in minimum mandatory reserves, and the injection of liquidity in the economy up to now functioned perfectly and must be continued.
  • HealthMin Tataru: Trying month to follow, starting with mid-October we can think of downward trend: Minister of Health Nelu Tataru declared on Monday that a “tough month” is coming in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the electoral campaign and the opening of the school year. Nelu Tataru specified that, if the rules and precautions are observed, from mid-October Romania could enter a downward trend of COVID-19 cases. As regards the seasonal flu vaccine, the Minister of Health said that three million doses have been ordered, which will start coming in mid-September.
  • Debate on digitalisation and simplification of labour relations organised by Labour Ministry: The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection on Monday organised a debate on “Digitalisation and simplification of labour relations,” in the context in which the labour market is constantly changing due to the coronavirus pandemic that imposes, as a first measure, physical distancing. “The issue of digitalisation and simplification of procedures in labour relations is a priority for the leadership of the Ministry of Labour, so that the legal framework and work of institutions with responsibilities in the labour market to support every employee and employer in Romania,” the statement said.
  • Ministry of Justice announces completion of institution reform process: The Ministry of Justice (MJ) on Monday informed that the ministry reform is completed, with the activity having been consolidated on three levels: legislative drafting, strengthening control and integrity and ensuring better communication. The Ministry of Justice also announced on Tuesday that it has completed three new projects from a larger package of laws, which is being drafted, to achieve the objectives of the Government Program and the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) Report.
  • ForMin Aurescu, Jordanian counterpart discuss security developments in phone conversation: Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu had a telephone conversation on Monday with Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy, attended by the Jordanian official as a special guest, through a video-conferencing system, with security developments in the Middle East featuring on the agenda.
  • UDMR’s Biro Rozalia: Pandemic shows we need more efficient EU foreign, security policy: The COVID-19 pandemic requires a stronger and more efficient foreign and security policy of the European Union, is the first conclusion of the interparliamentary meeting on the fields of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), respectively Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), which took place on Friday, September 4, the UDMR (Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania) Bihor MP, Biro Rozalia informed on Monday.
  • Senate’s Cazanciuc on Romanian Diplomacy Meeting: A new crisis arose because of health crisis – a crisis of trust: The SARS-CoV-2 crisis also caused “a crisis of trust” in the institutions, according to the Chairman of the Senate, Robert Cazanciuc, who sent a video message on the opening of the Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy (RADR).
  • PM Orban on Romanian Diplomacy Meeting: Our mission is to ensure right to vote of Romanians abroad: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Monday told the representatives of the Romanian diplomatic offices to take measures to ensure the best conditions for the Romanians in the diaspora to be able to vote in the parliamentary elections of December 6 and to maintain “an active and permanent connection” with the Romanians abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic period has been “perhaps the most difficult to the Romanian diplomacy since 1989,” Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu told the opening on Monday of the Annual Meeting of the Romanian Diplomacy (RADR).
  • Medical leave in case of isolation or quarantine – new regulations in force as of September 7: The unique model of medical certificate was updated by a joint Order of the Ministry of Health and CNAS, published on Monday in the Official Gazette.
  • New rules for obtaining secondary residency visa: Spokesperson for the Interior Ministry (MAI) Monica Dajbog announced on Monday new rules for secondary residency visas for Romanian citizens that entered into force this September. The novelty is that a check will be conducted and if more than two such applications are registered per address the local police will conduct an inspection to see whether the applicant actually resides there. Meanwhile, the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) has decided, by a decision dated September 7, that Romanians who did not obtain a second residency visa until September 4 at the latest can only vote in their hometown in the September 27 local elections. The changes surprise, but come in the context in which USR has conducted an intensive campaign for people living in a different town to get their visa and vote in the local elections, Bucharest being the main battle ground in this respect.

 

Impact on the economy

 

  • Statistics authority maintains estimate for Q2 economic shrinkage at 12.3 pct: Romania’s Q2 GDP was 12.3 percent lower in real terms compared to the first quarter, shows provisional data released on Tuesday by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). Year-over-year, the GDP was 10.5 percent down in the second quarter of the year, both as unadjusted and as seasonally adjusted series. In H1 2020, the GDP was 4.6 percent down from H1 2019 in unadjusted terms and 3.9 percent lower in seasonally adjusted terms. The estimated GDP for the second quarter of 2020 was 238.502 billion lei at current prices, down 12.3 percent in real terms compared to the first quarter of 2020 and 10.5 percent lower from the second quarter of 2019. According to Eurostat data released on Tuesday, Romania ranks 8th among EU countries with the biggest GDP drop in Q2.
  • Average net nominal wage up to 3,372 lei in July (INS): The average gross nominal wage was 5,468 lei (rd 1,129 euro), in July 2020, by 99 lei, respectively 1.8%, higher than in June 2020, and the average net nominal wage was 3,372 lei , up compared to the previous month by 74 lei (+ 2.2%), show the data of the National Institute of Statistics (INS), published on Tuesday.
  • Study: FMCG sales in Romania up 9% in H1: The sales of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in Romania increased by 9%, in volume terms, in the first half of the year compared to the same period of 2019, according to a study published by market research firm GfK. In value terms, the sales went up by 12% despite the 5% average rise in prices, as the Romanians shifted toward lower-cost brands. “The health crisis and, implicitly, the restrictions in recent months have led to changes in the buyer’s behaviour, so that the frequency of visits to the store has decreased by 6 per cent, and the average amount paid per trip to the store has increased by almost 20 per cent,” the survey shows. Discount stores are the big winners of modern trade. Thus, with an increase of 37 per cent in value compared to January – June 2019, discount stores surpass the supermarkets and become the second player in modern trade in terms of market share in value.
  • Romania to modernise Arad-Timisoara-Caransebes railway for EUR 1.8 bln: Romania’s Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications wants to invest RON 8.78 billion, or EUR 1.8 bln (including VAT) for the modernization of the Caransebes – Timisoara – Arad railway.
  • Public road company CNAIR to build two expressway in northeastern Romania: Romania’s public road construction and management company CNAIR signed the contracts for the feasibility studies related to two expressways in northeastern Romania: Pascani – Suceava, and Suceava – Siret. Both projects are included in Romania’s General Transport Master Plan (MPGT) and will be financed with EU funds under the Large Infrastructure Operational Program (POIM) 2014 – 2020.
  • Romanian bond yields drop as investor confidence strengthens: The confidence of foreign investors in Romanian Eurobonds has strengthened significantly over the recent weeks, with the yields of the 10-year on sovereign bonds denominated in euro falling to 1.8% from a maximum of 3.1% this year, according to BT Asset Management.
  • Romania’s currency weakens to record low versus the euro: Romania’s National Bank (BNR) announced a reference exchange rate of RON 4.8552 for EUR 1 on Monday, September 7, which marks an all-time low for the national currency versus the euro.  Prime minister Ludovic Orban toned down the concerns prompted by the new historical exchange rate. He said he was sure the central bank would keep the currency stable, according to News.ro.
  • Energy official: Investors will extract 10 pct of country’s gas consumption from Black Sea in 2021: Investors will extract 10 pct of the country’s gas consumption from the Black Sea, starting next year, Niculae Havrilet, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, said on Tuesday at the FOREN 2020 online conference. Havrilet did not specify the name of the company, but it is Black Sea Oil & Gas, which announced that it will begin production in the Midia offshore perimeter in the first half of 2021.
  • Ukrainian gas transmission operator has set its sights on the Romanian market: by the end of the year it wants to sign new interconnection agreements with Transgaz: Ukrainian natural gas transmission network operator GTSO, aims to sign new interconnection agreements at all border points in the second half of this year “which will open its access to the Romanian market”. According to GTSO, in the first 8 months of this year, Romania imported 0.46 billion cubic meters of gas from Gazprom on the Ukrainian route.
  • First commercial intention in Romania for a carbon storage project – sources: The cement producer HeidelbergCement is interested, in principle, in a CCS project – carbon capture and storage, according to government sources. The representatives of the cement producer had the first exploratory discussions with officials of the National Agency for Mineral Resources, according to sources, and were interested in the permits they would need.
  • Odeon Theatre House to operate at 90pct indoor capacity: The manager of the Odeon Theatre House, Cristian Sofron, has said that the Odeon will operate at of 90% indoor capacity from the end of next week.
  • Gov’t borrows 938 million lei off banks: The Ministry of Public Finance (MFP) borrowed 938 million lei off banks on Monday in a benchmark government bond issue of a residual maturity of 51 months, at an average yield of 3.22% per year, according to data released by the National Bank of Romania (BNR).
  • Romanian capital fund invests in medical imaging sector: Morphosis Capital Fund I, a Private Equity fund focused on Romanian SMEs, announces the closing of a new investment in Medima Health SA, a Bucharest-based medical clinic chain specialized in imaging and radiology. Through this transaction, Morphosis Capital takes a majority stake in Medima Health and forms a strategic partnership with its co-shareholders, renowned radiology professor Dr Gheorghe Iana and seasoned CEO, Vlad Ardeleanu, to build a strong player in the medical imaging sector in Romania.
  • Telecom operators are calling for a new 5G law: Following a public debate two weeks ago, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has released a new version of the 5G technology bill. However, mobile operators in Romania still have reservations and are asking the Government to amend the law. Market sources say the telecom giants are again asking the Ministry of Transport to amend and adapt the 5G law. One of the main concerns expressed in the last 2 weeks is related to the possible retroactive effect of the 5G legislation under discussion now. Another point of interest under discussion is related to the possible negative impact of these measures in the legislation, an impact that can affect a long-term partnership with Chinese companies in Romania.
  • Adobe employees who are working from home until August 2021 receive extra benefits: The value of the wellbeing benefits package received by Adobe Romania employees has increased to USD 600 per employee and is 50% higher than before, informs the company. Also, to encourage work-life balance, Adobe Romania employees receive five paid days off, one every three weeks until the end of the year.