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Romanian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-06-02 09:32:16
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Mining town suffers from its gold riches

Nature has carved a humbling landscape of deep river valleys and reddish peaks in a corner of the Carpathian mountains in western Romania. Rosia Montana town, made up of 16 villages that dot the slopes along the river Rosia, has hundred-year-old churches and houses, cemeteries and ancient Roman mine galleries. It also has gold. But for those who live here, that is more of a bane than anything else. Canada's Gabriel Resources wants to build Europe's largest open cast gold mine in Rosia Montana, a 15-year quest that has put the area at the centre of a national debate between heritage and development. The mine could bring billions of Euros in taxes and potentially thousands of jobs to an economically depressed region. But it will also require blasting four mountain tops, relocating the community and flooding one village to create a 300-hectare pond for chemical waste held back by a 180-metre-high dam.

The mine has the support of most of the 2,800 locals, the mayor and county administration and President Traian Basescu, eyeing the bounty the investment will bring. Those who oppose the project - a handful of residents, several church, environmental and human rights groups, the Soros Foundation and neighbour Hungary, which fears the consequences of any environmental damage - want to turn the area into a UNESCO heritage site focused on tourism and farming. Critics are concerned that concession rights were awarded without transparency and without exploring other options. Romania's new leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta, a political opponent of Basescu, has openly criticized both the plan and the president's support, and the topic will be a focus of debate in the run-up to a November parliamentary election.

The issue also cuts to the heart of Romania's economic problems, as the European Union's second-poorest nation struggles to take advantage of its resources and strategic location between western Europe and the Middle East. "Basically it's a choice between two world views set around the question of how we see Rosia Montana and Romania's future in five, 50 or 500 years," said Magor Csibi, country manager at the Romanian arm of environmental group WWF. "It's a war of nerves," said Csibi. “Whoever lasts longest wins."


Romanian Total Post gets second fine for breaching exclusivity of state – owned Romanian Post

Romania’s National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications (ANCOM) applied a EUR 11,000 fine to Total Post for having breached the right reserved to state owned Romanian Post to deliver mail under 50 grams, at a price below RON 2 per item. This is the second fine applied by ANCOM to the company, after a first in October last year, which was one fifth of the current fine. Until 2013, when the postal services market in Romania will be open to competition, the Romanian Post has sole rights to carry mail under 50 grams, being the universal service provider in the postal sector throughout Romania.

The fine for breaching the exclusivity can reach RON 60,000 and in the case of serious and repeated breaches, even 2 percent or 5 percent of the company’s turnover. “The amount of the fine applied to Total Post is justified on the one hand by the fact that this company did not modify the contract, which was subject to the sanction enforced last year and, on the other hand, by the fact that the same situation was found in the case of other contracts as well,” said Cristian Popa, the Director of the Monitoring and Control Executive Division within ANCOM. Total Post Services concluded contracts with several companies in view of providing postal services at a price lower than the one reserved for the Romanian Post.

The Romanian Post benefits from reserved rights since, in its capacity of universal service provider, it also has the obligation to cover postal services for the entire national territory in order to enable each inhabitant to have access to postal services, regardless of the locality where they live. The national service provider has the obligation to provide services throughout Romania, at the same tariffs, including in the hard to reach or low density geographic areas, where the correspondence volume is low and therefore the activity is not profitable. As well, CNPR has the obligation to make available for the users at least one postal box and at least one contact point in each locality on Romanian territory.


Romanian energy chief fired for 'arrogance'

The prime minister has fired the head of the national energy regulator for `'arrogant" comments, saying they showed he was out of touch with ordinary people. Victor Ponta said Thursday he fired Petre Lificiu after the official dismissed a five percent increase in electricity prices as insignificant.

Lificiu, the deputy president of the ANRE energy regulatory body, had said earlier this week: "Five percent means nothing. It means we don't leave the bathroom light on when we go to work."

Ponta says the remarks would incur public anger against the government. He says `'It's a hard time and the way (we) relate to people is important." Romania is in a recession. In 2010, the government slashed public wages by one-fourth, a year after it took a (EURO) 20 billion ($25 billion) loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and World Bank.

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