Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  1. Romania reports 197 coronavirus cases in 24 hours, more than 12,600 patients recover since the start of pandemic: Romania recorded 197 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 18,791 on Thursday, May 28, at 13:00, the authorities announced. Of them, 12,629 patients have recovered since the start of the pandemic. At the same time, the number of deaths increased from 1,219 on May 27 to 1,229 on May 28 at 13:00. Meanwhile, 182 patients are admitted to intensive care units across the country. At a national level, 410,000 tests have been carried out by May 28.
  2. When will the Romanian vaccine against COVID-19 be ready? Romania allocates 3.5 million lei for the discovery of a coronavirus vaccine, but the amount will increase, if the initial research proves that the product developed by OncoGen and the Cantacuzino Institute shows results. Professor Dr. Mircea Ioan Popa said that the testing period is 18 months, and at this moment it is very difficult to say when the vaccine will reach the market.

 

 

Political and regulatory

 

  1. The Minister of Economy announces the opening of the terraces from June 1. “We are seriously considering launching the seaside tourist season on June 15”: The seaside tourist season might start on June 15, announced on Thursday the Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, Virgil Popescu, who also states that terraces would open from June 1, and that most likely by Friday a joint order with the Ministry of Health on the rules to be followed by owners of terraces will be published.  The Minister of Health announced that the terraces could be opened from June 1. Their owners will have to follow many rules. Meanwhile DSU head, Raed Arafat, stated on Wednesday evening, that it is difficult to advance a date for the reopening of malls and does not know if they would also open on June 1.
  2. PM, German chancellor have phone talk, situation of Romanian seasonal workers among topics discussed: Romanian PM Ludovic Orban had a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, May 27. The German Chancellor referenced the German Government’s constant concern with respecting and protecting the rights of the Romanian citizens working in Germany, according to a press release of the Romanian Government. “The federal Government promptly initiated the change of the domestic legislative framework to offer them increased protection and guarantee the rights of Romanian employees,” the press release said. The two also discussed the strategic relationships between Romania and Germany and “agreed to continue the shared efforts to further deepen them, especially in the economic area.”
  3. Culture Minister signs order setting forth conditions for resumption of cinematographic and audiovisual activity: Culture Minister Bogdan Gheorghiu announced on Wednesday that he signed the order issued jointly with the Health Ministry, which lays out the conditions for the resumption of cinematographic and audiovisual works; the order will be published soon in the Official Journal. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Wednesday gave assurances that the resumption of film and audiovisual productions will be possible after the joint order of the Health and the Culture Ministries on COVID-19 protection regulations is signed and published in the Official Journal.
  4. President Iohannis, Irish PM Varadkar hold phone call on coronavirus crisis, EU agenda, UN cooperation: President Klaus Iohannis had a phone call with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the initiative of the Irish side on Wednesday, the two addressing the measures adopted in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bilateral relations, the European agenda, and cooperation at UN level, the Presidential Administration informs.
  5. CSAT approves Ionel-Sorin Balan’s appointment as STS director: The Supreme Council for National Defense (CSAT) approved the appointment of Maj. General Ionel-Sorin Balan as head of the Special Telecommunications Service (STS) at the proposal of President Klaus Iohannis, the Presidential Administration informs.
  6. Government allocates 100 million euros for preparation of projects related to financial exercise 2021-2027: The Government approved, by emergency ordinance, the allocation of an amount of approximately 100 million euros, from the Technical Assistance Operational Program, for the preparation of projects for the next financial exercise 2021 – 2027, said the Head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Ionel Danca.
  7. National Administration of State Reserves, in coordination of Government’s Secretariat: The Executive has decided on Wednesday to put the National Administration of State Reserves in the coordination of the Government’s General Secretariat, taking it from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI), Ionel Danca, the head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, announced.
  8. Lower House adopts motion against Education Minister Monica Anisie: The Chamber of Deputies adopted on Wednesday the simple motion against Education Minister Monica Anisie by a vote of 172 to 90 and 47 abstentions. PSD readies two more simple motions: against the Minister of Labor, Violeta Alexandru, and the Minister of Development, Ion Ștefan.
  9. The government is to approve the provision of active support measures for employees and employers from June 1: The government is to approve in Thursday’s meeting a draft emergency ordinance establishing active support measures for employees and employers in the context of the epidemiological situation caused by spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The budget would support 45% of the base salary (but no more than 45% of the gross average salary) for three months for employees returning from technical unemployment, while employers would have to keep the employment relation for 6 months after the 3 months supported from the budget end.
  10. Rogojinaru (MEEMA): 550 million euros from the funds granted to companies affected by coronavirus will go for development: The funds that will be granted to companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be divided into three categories, and most will go towards development, around 550 million euros, said on Thursday the Secretary of State from the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment (MEEMA), Liviu Rogojinaru. He explained that an amount of 350 million euros is dedicated to the HORECA sector, companies that have been totally or partially stopped their activity due to the effects of decisions issued by competent public authorities during the state of emergency, or to transport companies.
  11. USR reacts after CSM rejects the dissolution of SIIJ: USR harshly reacted after the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM) rejected the proposal for the dissolution of Section for Investigating Justice Crimes (SIIJ) under a bill initiated by USR. USR deputy Stelian Ion called the decision on Thursday “a very sad moment for our justice system”. On Thursday, the CSM gave a negative authorization for USR’s bill with 10 votes “against”, 8 “in favor” and 1 null. CSM’s notice is consultative, but shows that there is still strong support for this special section among it.
  12. PSD announces a motion of censure against the Orban Government: “We will have support for this government to fall”: PSD leaders decided on Thursday, during a meeting of the party leadership, to submit a motion of censure against the Orban Government, if the executive does not hike pensions by 40% from September 1. The motion will be tabled as soon as the law is amended, including whether the increase in the pension point will be postponed or whether pensions will be increased by less than 40%. “Any comma will change in the public pension law will be attacked by a motion of censure”, announced Olguța Vasilescu.
  13. Government on the reopening of gambling businesses: The reopening of the gambling activity will be possible in certain health conditions and depending on the evolution of the epidemiological crisis, said Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, after discussions with representatives of the gambling industry. Ludovic Orban had these discussions in the context of the measures that the Government will continue to take to limit the economic and social effects of the coronavirus crisis, the Government said. The representatives of the profile industry requested the keeping of support measures for this sector from the alert state. Previously, Sorin Constantinescu, government advisor in the gambling field said that “being closed around the same time with restaurants, casinos, betting halls and other gambling locations might also open from June 15.”

 

Impact on the economy

  1. Managers in Romania expect relative stability in construction, retail trade next three months: Romanian managers estimate for the next three months a relative stability of activity in construction and retail trade, a moderate decrease in the number of employees in construction, retail trade and services, as well as price hikes, according to the findings of a trend survey published on Thursday by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). In the May 2020 economic tend survey, managers in the manufacturing industry expect a decrease in production volume for the next three months (short term balance -21%; in April short term balance -70%).
  2. Four-month budget deficit widens to 2.48 pct of GDP: Four months into 2020, the deficit of the general consolidated budget has widened to 2.48 percent of GDP to 26.82 billion lei, more than half of it due to the fiscal facilities granted to fight the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Finance Ministry informs.
  3. 63 pct of Romanians over 18 say income similar to before state of emergency: The COVID-19 pandemic has produced alterations in the perception of Romanians on risks and in the consumption behaviour, even if 63 pct of those over 18 stated that their income is similar to that before the decreeing of the state of emergency and more than half say they have savings to manage, according to the most recent National Association of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Romania – Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy (UNSAR-IRES) barometer.
  4. Bosch group reports 18% stronger net sales in RO in 2019: The Romanian subsidiary of German group Bosch ended the 2019 fiscal year with consolidated sales of over RON 2 billion (EUR 436 mln). Total net sales were RON 6.7 bln (EUR 1.4 bln ), including sales of unconsolidated companies and domestic deliveries to affiliated companies, up 18% from the previous year. “Despite the weak global economy and declining production in the automotive sector, the Bosch group registered a positive evolution in Romania, in all areas of activity, at the beginning of 2020. However, due to the global economic crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year is an atypical one, even for Bosch. Given the many variables, we cannot provide a forecast for 2020 as a whole,” Boldijar added.
  5. Bolt launches food delivery service in Bucharest: Transportation platform Bolt launched the Bolt Food delivery service in Bucharest on Wednesday, May 27, shortly after its competitor Uber announced that it was withdrawing its similar feature, UberEats, from the market. All Bolt Food deliveries are contactless.
  6. US digital payment platform Stripe enters Romanian market: Digital payment processor Stripe, the most valuable American “unicorn,” has officially launched its services in Romania and four other European countries: the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Malta, and Cyprus. According to Stripe representatives, the COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated the company’s growth in Europe, as companies are more oriented towards the online environment.
  7. Study: FMCG sales keep rising in RO in Q1, private labels gain ground: Sales of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in Romania increased by 11% in volume and 14% in value in the first quarter of the year (Q1) compared to the same period last year. The share held by private labels in the total modern retail sales thus reached 21%. The authors of the study imply that the coronavirus pandemic impacted the volume of FMCG sales. Still, monthly data published by the statistics office INS don’t confirm such a scenario for the first quarter of the year.
  8. Bank lending loses momentum in Romania: The stock non-government loans granted by banks in Romania reached RON 271 billion (EUR 55.9 bln) at the end of April, up 5.7% compared to the same month of last year. The annual growth rate decelerated from 6.9% year-on-year at the end of March and hit the lowest level reported since December 2017.
  9. Romania’s Govt. simplifies lending procedures under state-guaranteed program: Romania’s Government, on May 27, decided to simplify the procedures of the IMM Invest program. With this measure, the Government aims to accelerate the processing of the loan requests filed by the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that should benefit from this program. The SMEs will no longer have to prove that they were impacted by the economic effect of the coronavirus epidemic, Ziarul Financiar reported.
  10. RO Govt. extends restructuring facility for companies with overdue taxes: Romanian companies with overdue payments to the state budget as of March 31 will be allowed to restructure their debt, avoid paying interest and penalties, and even get a bonus of up to 50% in exchange for cash front payment of up to 15%.
  11. Romanian FinMin happy with outcome of EUR 3.3 bln Eurobonds: Romania has obtained the lowest financing costs ever for the Eurobonds issued this year (EUR 6.3 bln in four tranches). The average financing cost is some 50bp (0.5pp) lower than initially planned, finance minister Forin Citu commented on May 27, as he announced the detailed outcome of the EUR 3.3 bln Eurobond issues launched on May 19 and disbursed on May 26. We have gone out on the international markets and the interest in Romania has been almost 14 billion euros, of which we have chosen to borrow 3.3 billion euros, the Public Finance Minister Florin Citu said after the government meeting on Wednesday. He specified that the loan offered the possibility of financing expenditure from the budget without any problems.
  12. Romania spent 1.5% of GDP on fiscal stimuli since mid-March: The fiscal measures taken by the Romanian Government to support the country’s economy since the state of emergency was announced in mid-March generated a 1.5%-of-GDP (EUR 3 billion) negative impact on the budget balance, finance minister Florin Citu announced. The measures adopted include pausing forced executions, the extension of deadlines for declaring and paying taxes, quick disbursement of VAT refunds with ex-post control, and bonuses for taxpayers who paid their dues on time.
  13. IEA on the historic decline in energy investments: The coronavirus crisis is causing the largest drop in global energy investments in history, because before the pandemic funding was set to increase by 2%, but now estimates indicate a 20% drop, says the International Energy Agency (IEA), according to Mediafax. Fossil fuels are the hardest hit, with a 30% drop in funding for oil and a 15% drop in coal. Investments in renewables have fallen by 10% and are only half of what is needed to fight climate change.