IMF to send mission to Romania on Jan. 21

A mission from the International Monetary Fund will return to Romania on Jan. 21 to resume aid talks, senate speaker and opposition leftist leader Mircea Geoana said on Monday.

Last week Romania’s new centrist coalition government approved an austerity budget for 2010, key to unlocking loan tranches from a 20 billion euro IMF-led aid package.

The IMF has said it would return once a budget has been approved by parliament and was optimistic Romania could receive its next loan tranches in February, which together with aid from the European Commission could amount to 3.3 billion euros.

Prime Minister Emil Boc has said his main priority was to get the budget through parliament by mid-January.

But Geoana said the deadline could be delayed slightly as deputies need time to analyse the budget plan and propose potential changes.

However, analysts had said they expected the bill to pass parliament unchanged.

“It is not the end of the world if during the week that the IMF is in Bucharest, Jan. 21-28, there is a 2-3 days delay (in passing the budget),” Geoana was quoted as saying.

The IMF office in Bucharest declined comment.

The 2010 budget bill aims to cut the deficit to 5.9 percent of gross domestic product from 7.3 percent this year. It envisages up to 100,000 public sector job cuts and a freeze on pension and wages.

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