Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Romania’s new coronavirus cases fall below 700 for the first time in two months: Romanian officials reported 692 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, September 14, the lowest daily total in almost two months. The last time Romania recorded less than 700 daily cases was on July 20, according to Digi24. However, the number of tests performed in the last 24 hours was also small – 7,331. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Romania reached 104,187 on Monday, according to the official daily report. More than 43,200 coronavirus patients were declared cured so far, and 11,374 asymptomatic patients were discharged ten days after the diagnosis. The death toll has risen to 4,185, according to the same report. A total of 22 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The number of COVID-19 patients treated in intensive care units was 456 on Monday, September 14. However, the number of cases remained well above 1,000 over the weekend, with 1,311 new cases on Saturday (at 24,939 tests) and 1,109 on Sunday (at 14,784 tests). Most new cases in the last 72 hours were registered in Bucharest (620), followed by Prahova and Iasi (161 each), Bihor (149), Brasov (119), Bacau (105), Timis (91), Ilfov (75), and Neamt (72).
Political and regulatory
- Romanian Liberals rule out any pre-electoral alliance: Romania’s ruling party – the National Liberal Party (PNL) – is running in the parliamentary elections on its own. Still, after the December elections, a majority formed by parties with similar views is needed, prime minister Ludovic Orban said on Sunday, September 13.
- Romania opposes EU passing Tax Action Plan with qualified majority: Romania does not support the proposed transition from unanimity to a qualified majority for adopting decisions related to taxation at the EU level, Romanian finance minister Florin Citu said at the Council of Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN). The ECOFIN is discussing the Action Plan for fair and simple taxation (Tax Action Plan). Citu argued that the tax policy is an element of sovereignty and an essential lever in establishing national policies.
- Romanian SMEs can apply for EUR 1 bln of grants after September 25: The Romanian Government published, on September 11, in the Official Gazette, the procedures for the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to apply for the EUR 1 billion of investment and working capital grants under the emergency ordinance 130/2020. The potential recipients will have to submit their applications by the end of October. The Special Telecommunications Service (STS) and the Economy Ministry are working on launching the program’s electronic application.
- New subway line opens in Bucharest this week: The first of the three segments of the fifth subway line in Bucharest (M5), which connects the Drumul Taberei neighborhood to the city center, will open this week, prime minister Ludovic Orban announced on September 13, quoted by Mediafax. The M5 metro line in the Drumul Taberei neighborhood will be inaugurated on Tuesday, September 15, the Minister of Transport announced in the government meeting on Monday.
- In phone conversation with Israeli counterpart, ForMin Aurescu discusses Middle East, joint gov’t meeting: Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Sunday had a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi in continuation of political consultations during his visit to Israel earlier this month. According to the Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE), the two ministers assessed the latest developments in preparations for holding a new joint session of the two national governments in 2021, namely the developments in setting up an expert working group to work on preparing the substance of the meeting in favourite areas of shared interest, such as agriculture, water management, IT, cyber security and artificial intelligence, to identify concrete co-operation projects.
- First day of school after six months of pandemic: The new school year starts today under very special conditions for roughly 2.8 million preschoolers and pupils, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Klaus Iohannis, PM Ludovic Orban, Education Minister Monica Anisie addressed school year start messages. On Sunday, Minister Anisiei also urged the media for calm, while PM Orban issued a message for reassurance saying that children are safer at school and that the authorities are prepared to react in any situation. Former Minister for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technological Development Mihnea Costoiu criticized the hybrid learning system (online and offline by rotation) as being an unsatisfactory solution, as teachers and parents are burdened with responsibility in such case. Minister Anisie has been under high media pressure lately, as well as political pressure from opposition with USR-Plus calling for her resignation, to PSD accusing her of passing responsibility to local authorities, of insufficient tablets allocated. Several protests were also announced on Monday, such as in Botosani by teachers and parents wearing white armrests, or in Bucharest where Declic NGO and the National Students Council organize a flash mob with “flying pigs”-shaped balloons for the promised tablets. School-age children numbered more than 4,474 million in 2019, representing 23.1 per cent of Romania’s resident population, according to provisional data published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on Monday. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said in the beginning of the Government meeting on Monday that in most locations school has started in good conditions and asked the Minister of Education, Monica Anisie, for school inspectorates to monitor the situation and intervene in cases where there are problems. He added that “not everything will go like clockwork from the beginning, small dysfunctionalities or imperfections may arise”, but in most schools “good things have happened”.
- Gov’t to meet to extend state of alert, consider allowing public rallies: The government will meet on Monday to approve a decision on extending the state of alert in Romania by another 30 days. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Sunday announced that a meeting of the National Emergency Management Committee will take place on Monday, while an extension to the current state of alert will be approved in a government meeting. “Of course, I was in favour of the idea of allowing public assemblies, rallies but health safety rules applying to other events will have to be followed in this case as well. (…) Most likely, the assemblies will be capped at as much as is currently allowed for electoral assemblies: 100 people in the open air, physically distanced, wearing a face covering,” PM Orban said. The Government decision also brings new clarifications regarding the organization of the voting process, introducing the obligation to disinfect hands at the entrance and exit of the voting station, according statements made by Secretary of State Raed Arafat, at the beginning of the Government meeting. Raed Arafat also said that the other measures remained unchanged, but noted that “contact sports have been removed from sports that are limited.” He also said that seminars or workshops could be organized under the same conditions as theaters and shows.
- PSD’s Dincu warns about low turnout in September 27 local elections: Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) National Council Vasile Dîncu told a news conference on Sunday that the local elections on September 27 can be “a great electoral disaster.” “We could have hugely long queues, because if in a polling station in Bucharest, say, where 1,500 people normally vote, if voting took place according to all indications and all health safety rules are followe, then out of 1,500 only 500 could vote in the allotted time,” Dincu claimed.
- PM Orban: Romania’s chances to recover economically are very good: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban claims that Romania has “very good” economic recovery prospects and has not been downgraded by rating agencies during the economic crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, due to “government credibility.” The head of the Executive also stressed that, despite the international crisis caused by COVID-19, Romania has seen both an increase in the number of employees and an increase in the average net salary.
- Transport Minister Bode: Through development of infrastructure, promotion of multimodal transport we will attract new investments: The development of infrastructure and the promotion of multimodal transport will lead to attracting new investments, but also to the development of some counties, such as Mehedinti or Caras Severin, says the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications (MTIC), Lucian Bode. He went on Friday, alongside the Prime Minister, Ludovic Orban, the Minister of Economy, Virgil Popescu, and the Minister of Health, Nelu Tataru, to visit some investment objectives in the Mehedinti County.
Impact on the economy
- Foreign direct investments down 60pct Jan-July: Foreign direct investments decreased in the first seven months of 2020 by 60.23% compared to the same period last year, to 1.326 billion euros, according to data published on Monday by the National Bank of Romania (BNR).
- Industry turnover, down 12.8% seven months into 2020: Total industry turnover (internal market and foreign market), in nominal terms, decreased by 12.8%, between January 1 and July 31, 2020, compared to the same period in 2019 , according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INS) published on Monday. Minister of Finance, Florin Cîțu, commented on his personal Facebook page that the industry recovered strongly in the third quarter. He believes that the economy had a “V” shape evolution in the COVID crisis and also says that it eliminated all the “apocalypse” scenarios.
- Owner of oil services company GSP wants to develop 1GW of gas-fired power plants: GSP Power, the newest division of Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP), controlled by Romanian businessman Gabriel Comanescu, plans to develop new energy capacities, both on land and at sea. The company’s plans include gas-fired power plants with a total installed capacity of 1,000 MW, Economica.net reported.
- Romanian businessman moves from HoReCa to real estate: Romanian entrepreneur Stefan Mandachi, known for building the first meter of motorway in the Moldova region, is disappointed with the Government’s support for investors in the HoReCa sector, where he has been active so far. He plans to switch to investments in the real estate sector and the chemical industry (production of disinfectants).
- AFI Brasov opens office segment for its first tenants: Israeli real estate developer AFI Europe inaugurated the AFI Park Brasov office project and announced new tenants for the first of the two planned office buildings, Siemens Romana and NTT Data. AFI Park Brasov is part of the mixed project AFI Brasov, located in the city center, which includes a shopping center with a leasable area of 45,000 sqm and two Class A office buildings.
- Delivery of new industrial & logistics spaces to hit 20-year record in RO this year: The deliveries of new industrial and logistics spaces in Romania could reach a 20-year high this year, despite slower activity in the first half. After 312,000 sqm of industrial and logistics spaces were completed in the first half of the year, another 350,000 sqm will be delivered by the end of the year, real estate consultancy firm CBRE estimates.
- Erste Group expects Romania to halve budget deficit by 2022: Romania’s public deficit will shrink from 8.6% of GDP this year to 5.5% of GDP in 2021 and 4.1% of GDP in 2022, under the latest forecast issued by Erste Group Research, quoted by Hotnews.ro. After rising sharply from 35.2% at the end of last year to 43.8% at the end of 2020, the public debt to GDP ratio will slow down thanks to a combination of shrinking public deficits and robust rise of GDP Austrian group expects.
- The first Romanian platform for digital standardized tests for students listed on SeedBlink: Brio®, the first and only platform for standardized digital tests addressed to Romanian students, takes a new step toward development and it is listed on SeedBlink, the largest equity crowdfunding platform in the region.