The bank sees consumer-price growth at 3.2 percent, still within its target range, compared with a November forecast of 3 percent, Governor Mugur Isarescu said in a news conference in Bucharest today. The inflation rate will probably drop to 3 percent in 2013.
“Weak domestic demand enables us to forecast that the inflation rate will remain well within the target band, but the very good harvest from last year will have a less favorable impact on inflation this year if it’s a normal agricultural year,” Isarescu said.
The Bucharest-based Banca Nationala a Romaniei cut its benchmark interest rate for a third meeting by a quarter-point to a record-low 5.5 percent on Feb. 2 to support an economic recovery amid the debt crisis and slowing inflation. Rate are being lowered “in small steps to keep from harming the equilibrium.”
The bank met its inflation target for the first time in five years in 2011 with the rate falling to a record low of 3.14 percent in December. The target range for this year is the same as last year at between 2 percent and 4 percent.
Prime Minister Emil Boc resigned yesterday after public wage cuts and tax increases prompted countrywide and sometimes violent protests. President Traian Basescu nominated Mihai- Razvan Ungureanu to form a government and get approval from lawmakers.
Boc’s government negotiated new deregulation deadlines for household electricity prices until 2017 from the previous 2015 during a two-week program review by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, which ended Feb. 5. The government had planned to start negotiating new deadlines for natural-gas price liberalization in April.
“At this stage, we see a reduced impact on the inflation rate stemming from administered price increases, but we might still see price changes when the government resumes talks in April,” Isarescu said.
The leu dropped 0.1 percent to 4.3483 per euro as of 12:48 p.m. in Bucharest. The Romanian currency has lost 0.5 percent against the euro so far this year, compared with gains of 7.2 percent for the Hungarian forint, 6.6 percent for Poland’s zloty and 2.2 percent for the Czech koruna in the same period.
The country secured a 5 billion-euro ($6.6 billion) precautionary accord from the IMF and the EU to reassure investors it will keep a fiscal discipline ahead of local and general elections this year. It doesn’t plan to draw on the money set aside by the lenders.
The ruling coalition pledged to lower the budget deficit to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product this year from 4.4 percent in 2011 to avoid possible financing problems stemming from market turmoil.
The international lenders lowered Romania’s economic-growth forecast for this year to between 1.5 percent and 2 percent from a previous outlook of between 1.8 percent and 2.3 percent on slowing exports to western Europe, the country’s major trading partner.
--Editors: James M. Gomez, Alan Crosby
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