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I feel very sorry to tell you that we have to stop our BUConline project after exactly one year. We think we made a good product – readers confirmed that – but unfortunately the costs to produce a quality site like this are much higher than revenues in crisis years.

I would like to thank Dineke, Monica and Oana for their great efforts, commitment and enthusiasm. And the readers of our site, tweets, newsletter and Facebook Page for their visits and feedback.

Many thanks,

Ton in 't Veld

Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Today's new exchange rate: 4,3112 RON/euro (+0,30%)
Today's new exchange rate of the National Bank of Romania: 4,3112 RON/euro (+0,30%) and 3,1897 RON/USD (-0.23%).

Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Former mayor Videanu to pay €1,3m to City Hall
Former Bucharest Mayor Adriean Videanu (PNL) may have to pay €1,3m to Bucharest City Hall. Antena 3 reports that the Court of Auditors of the Bucharest Tribunal decided that €8m unjustified payments were made in 2007 to different construction companies to pave Bucharest boulevards. The judges also ruled that City Hall bought land in Mihailesti (Giurgiu County) for a price about five times higher than the current market price to establish a stray dog shelter for Bucharest. The final decision of the Court will be made in November, when an appeal by Videanu is scheduled.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011
BUCfilm: all movies in all Bucharest cinemas
Bucharest plans new parking at Piata Henri Coanda
Bucharest City Hall plans to construct an underground parking for 36 cars on two floors at the crossing of Bulevard Lascar Catargiu and Piata Henri Coanda. The current messy surface parking will be replaced by a green area and a monument to aviation pioneer Henri Coanda. The plan has still to be approved by the General Council of Bucharest.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Conservatives on the verge to leave opposition alliance
Representatives of the Conservative Party (PC) stormed yesterday out of the Social- Liberal Union (USL) meeting without any explanation. Though co-president Crin Antonescu stated that PC representatives had to attend a party meeting. The Social-Liberal Union is divided by tensions among the three parties making up the Union – the Social-Democrat Party (PSD), the National Liberal Party (PNL) and PC. The Conservatives are the most disgruntled, after Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu decided to back Sorin Oprescu for another term as Bucharest Mayor, instead of supporting PC-candidate Cristian Popescu Piedone, mayor of District 4.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011
IKEA sells almost 4 times more per sqm than Mobexpert
The IKEA store in Baneasa saw monthly sales of €300 per square meter last year. That is almost four times more than the largest store of the Mobexpert group in Pipera and six times more than kika’s, reveals a analysis of Ziarul Financiar based on Finance Ministry data.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Ski champion dies in car-train collision in Miercurea Ciuc
Triple national ski champion Szabo Janos died on Monday evening, after the car he was driving was hit by a passenger train at the exit from Miercurea Ciuc, Harghita County. Following the impact, the car entered under the locomotive, which jumped the rails. According to the police, the crossing point was not signalled.

Monday, 26 September 2011
First stage of CFR Marfa's privatisation approved
Romania's High Defence Council has approved the first stage of the privatisation of national freight railway company CFR Marfa. The Council has mandated the Transports Ministry to sell more than 50% of the shares in CFR Marfa, a higher stake than the 20% initially announced by authorities. The company will have to meet certain transport needs in case of emergency, as well as requirements deriving from Romania's commitments to NATO and US.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Budget deficit widens to 2.4% of GDP in January-August
Romania's general consolidated budget registered a deficit of 12.97bn lei in the first eight months, meaning 2.4% of the gross domestic product, according to data published by the Finance Ministry. Revenues amounted 116.4bn lei, 9.5% more than in the same period of 2010. The increase is explained mainly by higher revenues from VAT (28.2%) and excise duties (16.2%). Spending on goods and services increased with 12% to 19.55bn lei.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Romania to withdraw security forces from Kosovo
Romania will withdraw its 178 gendarmes and police officers from Kosovo in December, when their tour of duty ends, the National High Defence Council has decided. According to a press release issued by the presidential administration, the details of the withdrawal will be decided together with European partners.

Monday, 26 September 2011
'Rosia Montana cyanide level cut to cost tens millions $'
Reducing the cyanide level in the lake of the Rosia Montana gold mine, as requested by the government, would cost the developer 'tens of millions of dollars', environment vice president of Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) Horea Avram said in an interview for AFP. Environment Minister Laszlo Borbely said in August he had requested RMGC to reduce the cyanide level proposed at 5 ppm, even though this is half the maximum level accepted by EU.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Capital of future private pension providers 50% cut
Companies that will administrate a private pension fund will have a minimum capital of €5m, 50% lower than the level proposed in December 2010, according to a draft of the Labour Ministry. The ministry had initially proposed the future private pension providers to have a capital of €10m, subscribed and fully paid, exclusively in cash, at the moment of their set-up.

Monday, 26 September 2011
EU approves €724m funds for two Romanian highways
The European Commission approved last week €724m non-reimbursable funds for building Nadlac-Arad and Orastie-Sibiu highways in Romania by 2013, the Transports Ministry announced. The two highways are part of the Pan-European transport corridor IV. "The approval of EU financing for these two projects will lead to an increase in the absorption rate of EU funds at the Transport Ministry by the end of this year and, in 2012 and 2013, we will fully spend the €2bn allocated to road infrastructure projects," Minister Anca Boagiu said.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Romania's exports dominated by mobile phones in H1
Romania's exports are dominated by mobile phones, which amounted 5% (€934m) out of the country's total €22bn exports in the first half of this year. The first three importers of mobile phones made in Romania are Hungary, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Former leaders in exports, car spark plugs, currently rank the second, with €834m in January-June, followed by cars (€750m). Romania's imports are still dominated by oil (€1.6bn), mostly from Kazakhstan, followed by drugs (€766m) and natural gas (€754m).

Monday, 26 September 2011
Dacia, BRD, Dalkia awarded by French Trade Chamber
Dacia, BRD and Dalkia have been awarded by the French Chamber for Trade, Industry and Agriculture in Romania for Duster, Instant Pay and the investment in CET Brazi. The awards were offered at a gala marking 15 years since the organisation was set up. BRD won the award for innovation, Dalkia won the category 'Investments' at large enterprises, while Dacia was offered the award of excellence.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Today's new exchange rate: 4,2984 RON/euro (-0,20%)
Today's new exchange rate of the National Bank of Romania: 4,2984 RON/euro (-0,20%) and 3,1970 RON/USD (+0.26%).

Monday, 26 September 2011
Romanian cars rank 2nd at uninsured car crashes in UK
The number of car crashes involving uninsured drivers from Eastern Europe in UK have increased with 400% in the last ten years, and Romania-registered cars rank the second, Daily Express reports. Polish cars were involved in the largest number of accidents - 2.436, up 575% from 2001- followed by Romania - 610 accidents, up 703% - and the Czech Republic - also 610, up 144%.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Motor tunnel could be built under Baneasa Airport
Bucharest General Council has approved a project on building a motor tunnel under Baneasa Airport runway to connect Aviatiei district to Otopeni Airport. The tunnel will have a length of 500 metres. The full project provides the construction of a 10 km artery which, besides the motor tunnel, will also include two overpasses.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Exploited wood volume up 5% in 2010
The volume of wood exploited by forestry certified operators totalised 14.25 million cubic metres last year, 5% more than in 2009, according to preliminary data of the National Statistics Institute. The highest share of this wood volume, 14.9%, was exploited in Suceava County, followed by Neamt (7.2%), Caras-Severin (5.5%), Bacau (4.7%) and Maramures (4.4%). The round wood exploited in 2010 was mainly used for timber processing (54.3%).

Monday, 26 September 2011
Risk premium reaches highest value since 2009
Romania's risk premium has increased with 15% to 462 points, the highest value since March 2009. In the last two months, Romania's credit defaut swap (CDS) has risen with about 50%. A higher sovereign CDS for Romania draws pressure both on the interest of loans taken by the population and companies and on the yields of government securities, money.ro notes.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Unemployment decreased to 7.2% in Q2
The unemployment rate decreased to 7.2% in the second quarter, from 7.6% in the first three months of the year, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS). But unemployment has risen compared with the corresponding quarter last year, when unemployment stood at 6.8%. The data are calculated according to the criteria of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Monday, 26 September 2011
Banks have problems to find clients for loans
Banks had a harder time finding clients to whom to lend money in the last summer month. The volume of loans to individuals and companies rose by just €140m in August, four times less than the average of the four previous months, according to National Bank of Romania data.
The balance of consumer loans fell between August 2010 - August 2011 by 6% in lei and 5.47% in euro loans. With regard to housing loans, the balance of the component in national currency decreased by 6.5%, but the euro has seen an advance by nearly 14%.

Monday, 26 September 2011
11 year old girl starves herself to death
An 11 year old girl died Friday, at Arad, after a long self-imposed starvation, Nine O'Clock reports. At the moment of her death, Monica had just 10 kg at the age of 11. According to a preliminary probe, the girl resorted to this extreme gesture because her mother went to work abroad. She was taken to hospital for the first time last year, when her teachers saw she was unable to walk and had lost her will to live. When her mother returned and stayed with her, Monica apparently started to recover, but the woman had to leave. Now, the mother and family of the girl accuse doctors that they did not do everything to save the child.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Liberal VP wants PC kicked out of USL-alliance
PNL Vice President Relu Fenechiu will ask the PSD and PNL leadership to kick the Conservative Party (PC) out of the USL-alliance. The Liberal said that in a serious alliance decisions cannot be taken by having one of the allies blackmailed. Fenechiu pointed out that he is disappointed with PC’s leaders at both regional and national level.

Monday, 26 September 2011
More than 250,000 participants in National Cleaning Day
Over 250,000 people throughout the country have participated in the National Cleaning Day last Saturday. Most of them were from Maramures, Brasov and Prahova Counties, the number of volunteers was way bigger than last year, according to NOG Let’s Do It Romania. A total of 390.000 sacks of garbage were collected from natural parks and recreation areas.

Monday, 26 September 2011
Football officials arrested for 29-days for match-making
UPDATE: The Bucharest Court on Sunday ordered the 29-day preventive arrest of Central Referee Commission head Vasile Avram and businessman Sorin Terbea for taking bribes to fix football matches. Two other men in the entourage of Terbea are also investigated in the case. Mediafax reports that on May 21, 2011, Avram, supervisor for the match between FCM Targu Mures and Universitatea Cluj, received €19,000 from Terbea to appoint referees endorsed by FCM Targu Mures.
UPDATE: Two officials of the Referees Committee, Vasile Aram and Sorin Torbea, were detained for 24 hours on suspicion of corruption Saturday night.
The Anti-Corruption Department (DNA) on Saturday searched the office of the Central Committee of Referees (CCA) from the Romanian Football Federation (FRF). Sorin Terbea, president of the FRF and Vasile Aram of the Executive Committee of the Federation, were transported to the DNA-office for hearing in a case of "influence peddling". Sources told that several referees would also be heard by DNA. The operation is linked to the success of Otelul Galati, the team that won the Romanian football title last year, thanks to the protection and goodwill of referees and opponents.

Sunday, 25 September 2011
Highlights of the new letter of intent to the IMF
Two new energy companies, Oltenia and Hunedoara, will be privatised by the end of June 2012. The move will entail layoffs in some departments, states the government in the latest letter of intent to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), published by Mediafax. Another intention is the excluding of costly nonessential health services from the state-insured healtcare benefits, which can be provided by an additional private health insurance.

Sunday, 25 September 2011
Iraqis get life sentences for kidnapping two Romanians
The Central Criminal Court of Iraq has sentenced two Iraqis to life sentences for their role in the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Iraq in 2005, Mediafax reports. Romanian journalists Marie Jeanne Ion, Sorin Dumitru Miscoci, and Ovidiu Ohanesian were kidnapped in Iraq in March 2005 but released two days later. Omar Hayssam, a Syrian-Romanian businessman, was convicted to 20 years in prison by a Romanian court for masterminding the kidnapping. Hayssam was arrested in May 2005 but fled the country when he was released on medical grounds one year later.

Saturday, 24 September 2011
England easy winner over Romania at Rugby WC
England's Mark Cueto scored a hat trick in his first World Cup appearance since the 2007 final and fellow wing Chris Ashton also crossed three times to give England an easy 67-3 win over Romania at the Rugby World Cup in Dunedin New Zealand. England were on the scoreboard after only one minute against a Romania side showing 11 changes from that beaten by Argentina earlier in the week.

Saturday, 24 September 2011
'Investors could turn away from Hungary to Romania'
The 'hostile' economic policy of the Hungarian government will determine foreign investors to turn away from this country and to invest on short term in Romania, the Czech Republic or Slovakia instead, according to Erste Group CEO Andreas Treichl. He added Erste will not leave Budapest, but will invest capital aimed at business developments outside Hungary. The Hungarian government has adopted new austerity measures, such as increasing the VAT to 27% and giving up the 16% flat tax.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Police integrity could be tested by undercover officers
The Interior Ministry wants to use undercover officers from the General Anti-corruption Directorate (DGA) to test the integrity of police officers, according to a draft order. The undercover officers will be sent especially in 'areas vulnerable to corruption' such as the border police or the road police. The ministry's draft order has been put up for public debate.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Island in Navodari to be put up for sale
An island in the middle of Tasaul Lake will be put up for sale by local authorities in Navodari, Constanta County. The island named 'Ada' has an area of about 25.2 hectares, 14.8 of which will be divided into plots of about 300 square metres each which will be auctioned. The starting price for a plot will be €10,000-€11,000 without VAT, Navodari mayor Nicolae Matei said. The money will be used to provide the necessary utilities such as water supply, electricity and sewage on the island and to build wharfs. This project will help Navodari to be certified as tourist resort of national interest, the mayor added.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Romania still has best economic outlook in CEE
Romania has continued to register the best six-month economic outlook in the Central and Eastern Europe in September, according to a survey conducted by ZEW. Romania's indicator of economic expectations has dropped with 5.5 points to -5.6 points. All countries in CEE registered falls in analysts' expectations, while the indicator for the entire region dropped with 11.6 points to -38. Regarding the current economic situation, Romania continues to rank the second last, before Hungary, after its indicator slightly rose with 3.5 points to -37.2.

Friday, 23 September 2011
US missile shield base in Deveselu costs $400m
UPDATE: The costs of the deployment of missile shield elements in Deveselu are estimated at $400m, state secretary Bogdan Aurescu said. Annual costs of about $40m will be exclusively covered by US.
Romania's agreement with US regarding the deployment of missile shield elements in Deveselu has been made public. The main provisions of this deal are:
- The base remains in the property and under the sovereign jurisdiction of Romania
- Romania will establish a restricted airspace around the base
- The number of US force members in Deveselu may not exceed 500
- US will use, 'as far as possible', Romanian citizens and companies for contracts in Deveselu
- Romania is not responsible for damages outside its territory
- Romania and US will share costs for the base
- US will have exclusive authority over the operations in Deveselu
The agreement has been signed for an indefinite period and can be terminated by either party by written notice, which would take effect within two years.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Romanians in Spain request restriction cancellation
The Romanians in Europe Associations Federation (FADERE) has challenged at the Supreme Court the law issued by Spain restricting Romanian workers' access. The Federation demands total or partial cancellation of restrictions and suspending the measure until a final decision is taken. According to the Federation, all Romanians affected by these restrictions have remained in Spain and are currently working on the black market.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Cesaria Evora retires at 70, Romanian concerts cancelled
Cape Verdian singer Cesaria Evora, nicknamed the 'barefoot diva', has decided to retire at 70 due to health problems and will cancel her upcoming tour, including the three concerts scheduled in Romania in October. According to her record label, the singer had arrived in Paris 'in a state of great weakness' and was unable to complete a planned series of French concerts. Cesaria Evora was going to perform in Bucharest on 5th October, in Timisoara on 3rd October and in Cluj-Napoca on 7th October. Organisers of the concert in Bucharest say they still sell tickets as they have not yet been officially announced about the singer's decision.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Worker dies after falling from sixth floor in Bucharest
A 36-year-old man working at a construction site in sector 1, Bucharest, died after falling from the sixth floor of a building. According to the Labour Inspectorate, the worker wanted to lower his equipment with an elecrical pulley, but when he let the tools down the pulley, they were unbalanced and dragged the man down.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Today's new exchange rate: 4,3072 RON/euro (-0,02%)
Today's new exchange rate of the National Bank of Romania: 4,3072 RON/euro (-0,02%) and 3,1886 RON/USD (-0.29%).

Friday, 23 September 2011
Private lending down 0.1% to 215.7bn lei in August
Private loans in Romania dropped with 0.1% to 215.7bn lei in August from July, but were up 3.9% compared with the same month of 2010, according to the National Bank. Loans in lei for the population rose with 0.5% from July and those for companies dropped with 0.2%, while loans in foreign currency were down 0.7% for the population and up 0.1% for companies. Government lending rose with 0.6% to 64.7bn lei from July and with 18.5% from August 2010.

Friday, 23 September 2011
Otopeni, Baneasa Airports' revenues up 25% in H1
Total revenues of Otopeni and Baneasa airports rose with 25% to 246.1m lei in the first half of this year compared with the same period of 2010, data of the National Bucharest Airports Company (CNAB) show. Traffic at these two airports was up 8.2% in January-June to 3.4 million passengers. CNAB posted a profit of 56.89m lei in the first half, 5.9% higher than in January-June 2010.

Friday, 23 September 2011
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