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WEATHER – Over 150 trains were canceled on Wednesday due to extreme weather. Two major highways and many national roads have been temporarily shut down in the south and east. Authorities have also cut off traffic from neighboring Bulgaria at the Vama Veche crossing point. 11 flights taking off from Henri Coanda International Airport in Bucharest were cancelled. Black Sea ports were blocked for the night due to severe wind, opening for sailing later on.
MEETING – Romanian president Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday after meeting with Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and Finance Minister Viorel Stefan that he received information about the budget for 2017. The president wants a sustainable and robust budget, with a budget deficit below 3% and with 2% of the GDP allotted to defense. On the other hand, the President said that he would ratify the law by which the Chamber of Deputies amended the Fiscal Code. The law eliminates health insurance contributions for all pensioners and makes all pensions below 450 euros tax deductible. In turn, the Government decided to increase the salaries of actors and certain categories of artists by 50% starting February 1.
ECONOMY – The Romanian economy will grow by 3.7% in 2017, by 3.4% in 2018, and by 3.2% in 2019, according to the latest World Bank report, which expects that the tally for 2016 will be a growth of 4.7%. The institution noted that the high level of growth last year was caused by the slash in the VAT, but will stabilize in 2017. Globally, the World Bank expects a moderate growth, around 2.7%. Advanced economies are expected to grow by 1.8% in 2017, from 1.6% in 2016, while emerging economies are expected to grow by 4.2% this year, from 3.4% last year.
COOPERATION – The US Embassy in Bucharest has urged representatives of the Government, Parliament and the judicial system to cooperate in order to combat corruption. In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the Embassy expressed its willingness to cooperate with Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and members of his cabinet to develop even further the Strategic Partnership between Romania and the United States, which is based, among other things, on a firm commitment towards good governance and consolidating the rule of law. The US has firmly supported the efforts of President Klaus Iohannis and judicial institutions to enact the law, the release also reads. Recently, Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea has challenged the constitutionality of the law stipulating that only people without incompatibilities and criminal sentences can be members of the Government, while Justice Minister Florin Iordache has referred to the possibility of adopting an amnesty and pardon law. Both actions have been criticized by the president and anti-corruption prosecutors.
TENNIS – The Romanian-American pair made of Monica Niculescu and Abigail Spears on Wednesday pulled out of the double’s event at the Australian Hobart tournament, an event with more than 225 thousand dollars prize money up for grabs. The two withdrew ahead of the quarterfinals fixture against Dutch - Czech pair made of Demi Schuurs and Renata Voracova. The two decided to pull out of competition because of Abigail Spears’ knee injury. Also in the women’s doubles quarterfinals in Hobart, the Romanian Raluca Olaru and the Ukrainian Olga Savciuk wil face Ukrainian twins Ludmila and Nadia Kicenok. In Hobart, Niculescu will carry on in the women’s singles, where in the quarterfinals on Thursday she will face Japan’s Risa Ozaki (100 WTA). (Tranlsated by V. Palcu)