Romania 2013 Economic Growth May Be ‘Close’ to 3%, Voinea Says

Romania’s economic growth last year was probably “closer” to 3 percent, exceeding the government’s estimate, as consumption recovered in the fourth quarter, Budget Minister Liviu Voinea said.

The Bucharest-based cabinet wants the International Monetary Fund board to approve two joint reviews of the country’s precautionary accord “somewhere in the spring” after President Traian Basescu refused to sign documents completing a November review because of disputes over a fuel tax, Voinea said in an interview at the Vienna Euromoney conference today.

“After the first nine months we have growth of 2.7 percent and for the year-end it will be between 2.5 and 3 percent,” Voinea said. “If we had a recovery in consumption, and we have reasons to believe that we did, particularly in December, then we can get closer to 3 percent.”

The economy of the European Union’s second-poorest member grew 4.1 percent in the third quarter, the fastest in two years, helped by exports and a bumper harvest. The state agreed in 2013 on a 4 billion-euro ($5.5 billion) loan equally split between the IMF and the EU to shield itself from market shocks and help reduce debt costs. It hasn’t drawn any funds from the loan.

Voinea said that a previous letter of intent and a new one to be discussed this month should be approved together sometime in the spring.

‘No Suspension’

“There is no suspension of the accord, the agreement is ongoing,” Voinea said. “Even in the absence of an approved letter we are implementing all the measures. The same is valid for the memorandum with the EU, which has no problem because their reviews there are every six months, so in January will be the first review.”

The Washington-based lender’s board canceled a debate in December on Romania’s progress under its precautionary financing accord and said the government still needed to sign off on fiscal policies designed to meet its commitments under the deal.

Romania can’t send documents needed to conclude its part without an endorsement from Basescu.

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