Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Romania EconMin sees 2010 economy growing 1.5 pct

BUCHAREST, May 24 (Reuters) - Romania's economy may record growth of over 1.5 percent this year after contracting more than 7 percent in 2009, Economy Minister Adriean Videanu said on Monday.

His comments come after the International Monetary Fund said earlier in May it sees flat or negative growth for the European Union state, revising previous estimates downward as economic indicators have so far underperformed expectations.

"I am optimistic," Videanu told local television station Realitatea TV. "In my opinion, (growth) will go above 1.5 percent this year."

An IMF mission to review Romania's progress in meeting the conditions attached to a 20 billion euro aid package agreed to allow it a wider deficit target of 6.8 percent of gross domestic product this year against a previous 5.9 percent.

However, it said the IMF will not disburse further aid until the centrist coalition government takes strong measures to cut public spending and boost tax receipts.

The cabinet has said it will enforce drastic cuts in pensions and wages in its sprawling state sector as of June, in a bid to avoid raising taxes but angering powerful trade unions.

Thousands of Romanians protested against the cuts in Bucharest last week, and unions are considering a general strike on May 31, casting doubt on Romania's ability to meet its pledges.

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