News 04 Jan 13

IMF Mission Poses Test for Romania

An IMF audit mission, which is coming to eveluate to Romania's economic performance, is seen as posing a major credibility test for Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Marian Chiriac

A team of auditors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, IMF, is to come to Bucharest on January 15 to discuss the country’s draft budget for 2013 and its progress on reforms, the IMF representative for Romania, Tonny Lybek, said on Thursday.

“The IMF mission will talk with the Romanian authorities about recent economic evolutions, the draft budget and Romania’s monetary policies,” Lybek said. The team will end its mission on January 29.

The IMF delayed its mission, originally set for November 2012, until after the 9 December general elections and the installation of a new government.

Analysts say the visit will be a major test for the centre-left government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

“The visit is important as it will evaluate the latest structural reforms and the government’s commitment to continuing them," economic analyst Marian Dusan said.

"Romania needs a long-term partnership with the IMF, with goals including economic stability and recovery, reducing unemployment and improving competitiveness,” he added.

In its last evaluation report, the IMF in November said Romania needed to fulfill its existing commitments before it could conclude a new agreement, as several earlier planned reforms were not completed.

The Fund stressed the importance of health care reforms, adding that the education system also needed to offer better training to people to meet the demands of the labour market.

Romania has a difficult year ahead, as in 2013 it must repay 5.2 billion of a 20-billion-euro rescue package from the IMF, the European Union and the World Bank.

It obtained the loan in May 2009 in exchange for agreeing to push through austerity measures aimed at taming the country’s deficit.

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