Thursday, March 17, 2011

Romania Meets Bailout Terms as Boc Defeats No-Confidence Motion

Romania has passed the last piece of legislation needed to meet the terms of its international bailout as Prime Minister Emil Boc defeated a no-confidence motion tied to changes to the labor law.

Boc, whose governing coalition has a majority in the 470- seated Parliament, defeated the first attempt by the opposition to oust him in 2011 and the fifth since the beginning of last year by 24 votes, Roberta Anastase, the president of the chamber of deputies, said yesterday. The outcome automatically approves the labor law, which introduces contracts for temporary workers and increases sanctions for illegal employment.

“The current changes to the labor law protect the ones who work honestly and will help create hundreds of new jobs,” Boc told lawmakers before the vote. “In the second half of the year, we’ll be able to reduce social-security contributions to encourage the companies to hire more people.”

Romania, whose economy went through the worst recession on record over the past two years, passed the 2011 budget, a revised pension law and a law setting this year’s wages to curb public spending, narrow the deficit and satisfy the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which provided a 20 billion-euro ($28 billion) bailout loan in 2009.
New Loan

The labor law amendments were the last legislative changes required by creditors under the current agreement. The Balkan nation plans to obtain a new 5 billion-euro precautionary loan from the lenders in April.

Opposition parties plan to challenge the legislation in the Constitutional Court, Crin Antonescu, the leader of the Liberal Party, told reporters after the vote.

The ruling coalition, facing elections next year, has lost public support over the measures taken to keep the bailout funds flowing. President Traian Basescu on Feb. 15 said that Boc’s Cabinet needs “another governing style” to “boost the economy, not just get it out of the crisis.”

Media including news service Mediafax, newspaper Gandul and private television stations Realitatea TV and Antena3, have cited unidentified people as saying that Boc may resign after the vote to pave the way for a new government backed by the same ruling coalition.

“I think the prime minister will be changed before the internal elections of the DemocraticLiberal Party in May,” said Adrian Moraru, an analyst at the Institute for Public Policies in Bucharest, in a phone interview. “I think he will probably resign, that’s the simple way, as the President wants to refresh the government after taking all the hard measures.”

About 8,000 people protested in front of the Parliament building yesterday, demanding Boc’s resignation, according to riot police data.

“What we started today doesn’t end here,” Bogdan Hossu, leader of Cartel Alfa, an umbrella group for unions that includes more than 1 million state employees, said at today’s protest. “We started gathering signatures to organize a general strike of all the public sector.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net; Irina Savu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez in Prague atjagomez@bloomberg.net

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