BUCHAREST, May 18 (Reuters) - Romania's economy, which fell by a bigger-than-expected 6.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, could contract by up to four percent over the year as a whole, the central bank's chief economist said on Monday.
Data released on Friday showed the economy shrank by more than double economists' forecasts, as the global cash squeeze trampled consumption and manufacturing.
'The fall was bigger than we expected, but I think that in the next quarters the (contraction) will ease so that on the whole year the contraction will be situated anywhere between 0 and 4,' Lazea was quoted as saying by daily Romania Libera.
The International Monetary Fund, which leads a 20-billion euro loan package Romania secured in March, sees the economy contracting by 4 percent this year.
Earlier this month Lazea said the economy may record slight growth, helped by a slight pick up in exports, a potential good harvest, the finance ministry thinning out debt issuance and industries with high growth potential.