By Dean Edgar
It seems that the UK’s very own Prince Charles is well liked by Romanians. A recent survey (lies, damned lies and statistics) as to which Royal personages are the most popular has suggested that Charles is their favourite, ahead of Princess Margareta, the Custodian of the Crown and former Prince Nicolae. He is not that popular in the UK, and there has been talk of his son, Prince William, becoming King as and when Queen Elizabeth steps down or dies. So why not make the country a constitutional monarchy and make Charles king? He clearly loves this country and his genealogy has been traced back to Vlad the Impaler. A win win all around.
Uber, liked by everyone apart from the Mayor’s offices of Bucharest and Ilfov and the smart and professional taxi companies, is in the news again and for all the right reasons. It has been reported that Uber pays three times more tax than 9 biggest taxi firms in Bucharest put together, according to data from the Federation of Romanian Transport Operators. Uber paid some €41,200 (the equivalent of RON 187,000 at the 2016 exchange rate) in profit tax. In addition, 100 Uber drivers paid €71,200 in income tax and social contributions. Not only is Uber providing an excellent service, it is also contributing to the public purse, something that the existing taxi companies don’t appear to be doing. Long may Uber continue.
Otopeni airport’s (or Henri Coandă, if you prefer) troubles are still not over. After the debacle of the Japanese prime minister’s visit, it appears that, despite having a budget of approximately €50 million a year for 2013-2105, nothing was spent. Investment for 2016-17 wasn’t much better with the Bucharest Airports National Company (CNAB) spent only a minute proportion of 0.03% and 0.16% of the budget in the airport infrastructure. Meanwhile, the report also found that two runways had problems. For example, runway 1 does not provide efficient landing/takeoff conditions and, runway 2 is only operational for a length of 2,237 m, out of a total of 3,500 m. Also, the landing lights are not equipped for low visibility, and the list goes on. To cap it all, some employees seem to have forgotten that they have a job. One of the people given as an example is Camelia Metler, who apparently came to work for a grand total of only 112 minutes in one and half years. However, she earned more than RON 70,800 for this heavy workload. Fair play to her…
And on to the continuing attempts by the ruling PSD to undermine the justice system in Romania. The justice minister, Tudorel Toader, has submitted a request for the head of the anti corruption agency, Laura Codruța Kovesi, to be dismissed. The 36 page report, which was announced in a long press briefing, lists every negative act that Laura has done whilst being the head of the agency. The report was then passed onto the President, Klaus Iohannis, as only he can remove her from office. As far as I can tell, the report is complete nonsense, there doesn’t appear to be any credible evidence of any wrong doing, so it basically boils down to the justice minister saying that Ms Kovesi is smelly, and didn’t invite anyone from the PSD to her birthday party. Iohannis has also kicked out the request, saying the request is unwarranted. This could lead to him being impeached, but hopefully this won’t happen. Since then, European Commission first vice president Frans Timmermans has visited Romania and met with all the significant leaders to basically tell them all that the EU is watching and don’t mess with the justice system. It has been suggested that the EU had been misinformed of what was going on here, Mr Timmermans makes the point that there has been no misunderstanding and that all parts of the political system should work together. Somehow, I don’t think that this will happen anytime soon.
Romania is losing people, 3.4 million to be precise, have left Romania since it joined the EU in 2007. That’s 17% of the total population, a massive number. Only Syria had a bigger population exodus over the same period, and that was down to a war. Most alarmingly, the number of young Romanians (those aged between 15 and 29) has fallen even more dramatically, down 28 per cent, from 4.86 million in 2008 to 3.52 million in 2016. “It would be difficult to think of a more pressing priority for Romania than keeping, and perhaps even bringing back, its most productive people,” commented Claudiu Nasui, an MP for the opposition Save Romania Union (USR). “For people to want to return to Romania, they need to see that there is political and economic stability. They need to see that there is a functioning justice system which delivers verdicts in good time and which punishes corruption. They need to be free of bureaucratic obstacles that do nothing to encourage economic initiative.”
“What we see now is the opposite,” he continued. “We see more and more qualified people quite rightly losing patience with Romania. Some are fearful of what will happen next. Many have left, and many more will continue to leave as long as things do not change.”
Strange but true, a Bucharest dentist had her surgery broken into one night, and the thief’s image was caught on CCTV but instead of the police trying to find the thief, as his face was clearly visible on the film, they fined the dentist €2,100 because she “favored the offender by failing to carry out the risk analysis of the apartment’s physical security.” Rather overzealous on behalf of the police, and there is no news on whether the thief was ever caught. Poor woman.
Until the next time.
Dean Edgar has been living the expat dream here in Romania for 11 years. He is General Manager of Moorcroft Services, a company dedicated to assisting foreigners to settle in Romania. They can help with visas, permits, company set-ups, car registration, house hunting, insurance, orientation tours and basically anything that a newcomer to Romania might need see www.moorcroft.ro for further details.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the writer, Dean Edgar, and not related to those of the publisher, OZB.