Statistically speaking, we're fine
The March statistics on net salary income show an 80 RON hike in absolute value. This is up on the February figures, but down year on year. Are we to understand that we are fine or are we kidding ourselves... statistically speaking?
It probably depends whom you ask, the authorities or a professor for instance. But to be realistic and objective, what’s really important is that the trend should continue. If next month the same statistics reveal that we have reached a peak and are free-falling, then we have a problem.
And the general outlook does not seem too bright. Take for instance the calls from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is insisting on the privatisation, reorganisation and even bankruptcy of several state-owned companies. This might look good on paper and should have been done years ago, but would you think so if you were one of the 7,000 employees about to lose their jobs? What do the official statistics matter to these thousands of soon to be ex-employees and how will the numbers help them as they struggle to stay above the breadline?
Another piece of good news is that social security contributions will soon be reduced. But again there are big questions. Will those cuts directly affect employees’ salaries or be deducted by employers? What’s clear is that the decision should be aiming to encourage consumption.
And what is more worrying is that foreign direct investments in Romania fell more than 20 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period of 2010. If we look at the trend, it’s been downhill from as far back as 2009. Let’s not forget that some European countries have recently emerged from the crisis, and are perhaps not even talking about it anymore. But then they didn’t have a president who stated on national television, as Basescu did, that their country is no longer in recession.
This slide in FDI indicates that Romania is no longer sufficiently attractive to investors, as reform that means only cuts and not actual profound reorganisation puts us even further from the “light at the end of the tunnel”.
Recently, we have read that the Transylvania highway is a not a priority for Romania. Which invites the question: which highway is the priority for Romania? What serves a debate over which highway we should build when we remain light years behind our neighbours, especially from the West, which have not made one highway a priority, but all possible highways that could pass through their countries?
We have to understand that working on Transylvania highway does not mean we cannot work in parallel on another three highways. Given the layoffs we’ve been talking about, there are plenty of workers available...
And money is also available. Romania boasts the “distinction” of being in last place for actual payments from EU funds. While until now we could console ourselves that our neighbours from the south, the Bulgarians, were making even slower progress, this is no longer the case and Romania is left playing catch-up. The worst results were in infrastructure, precisely where the big problem was that the priority “was not correctly set”. But otherwise, we’re fine...