BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's new left-leaning government has pledged a moratorium on shale gas exploration and will review a controversial Canadian plan to build Europe's largest open-cast gold mine.
Prime Minister-designate Victor Ponta also said he will respect commitments to the International Monetary Fund, and increase public sector wages that were slashed by 25 percent in 2010 to meet the terms of a €20 billion($26 billion) IMF-led loan.
He also promised to reduce sales tax on bread from 24 to 9 percent, to better absorb European Union funds, and to reduce the level of political appointments in public institutions.
The measures are part of Ponta's governing program, which was published Friday. Parliament is expected to approve Ponta's Cabinet in a Monday vote.
The previous government which fell in a confidence vote last week, awarded U.S. petroleum company Chevron Corp. exploration rights of shale gas for large areas near the Black Sea in March, which drew criticism from environmentalists.
Canada's Rosia Montana Gold Corp. which has been waiting for permits to go ahead for 14 years for the gold mine in Transylvania, says it is believed to contain 300 tons of gold and 1,600 tons of silver.
President Traian Basescu, a strong supporter of the mine, urged the previous government to speed up the process to grant permits, saying the mine would provide vital foreign investment and jobs in an impoverished region.
The project, has been strongly criticized by environmentalists and historians because it uses cyanide in the extraction process and the mine is located in an area where there are Roman remains.