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Isarescu: I advise the banks to buy government bonds

Autor: Daniela Ivan 10 Feb 2009 - 00:00

The BNR Governor, Mugur Isărescu, has advised the commercial banks to buy government bonds to allow them access to refinancing as well as to help finance the budget deficit.

The financing of the budget deficit at a reasonable cost is vital for Romania in the current situation, when it is difficult to cover even a low level of 2% of the GDP, said the NBR governor, Mugur Isărescu at a meeting with the Finance Minister, Gheorghe Pogea, and the banks. He stated that, due to the current circumstances, with limited lines of financing from foreign banks and the difficult access to external programs for state funding, financing the budget is a problem, even on the domestic market, through government bonds.

Isarescu explained to several bankers that waiting for the interest on government bonds to reach 17% is incoherent as compared to the reality. "Some presidents said they didn't have approval from the shareholders for exposure on the Romanian state. If this is true, I will address the staff, the shareholders, and the supervisory bodies in the state", said Isarescu. Despite these problems, the stock of government bonds rose in the last three months from 12 billion lei to 25 billion lei, the governor announced. "The resources are not the same, and the Romanian National Bank cannot help financing the deficit at all. The occurrence of additional sums in order to finance the excessive deficit is vital", said the governor.

The variant of a stand-by agreement with the IMF costs hundreds of millions of euros, which includes a non-utilization commission of 25%, Isarescu said. "How can a central bank or government ask for a loan? For what? (...) To fill a financing hole in the private sector, which is not known precisely? (...) Costs of hundreds of millions of euros come with such an agreement and it will have future repercussions. Who will pay?", Isarescu asked. He said, however, that we could use a loan from the EU.

Romania had an extraordinary budget deficit of more than 3% of the GDP, which was funded with the NBR help. "The Ministry of Finance had one billion euros from NBR in the foreign exchange reserves. It sold that money. Any purchase from the central bank means monetary issue. Subsequently, the sale of currency in the market was the only reasonable solution to get out of the impasse", the governor said. Isarescu also said that he was among the members of the Board who voted the decrease in the reserve requirements in RON by two percent, but he regretted this moment and believed that the measure had been taken too soon.

A certain stability of the exchange rate and a correlation with the macroeconomic fundamentals are for the best of the Romanian economy, state and commercial banks, Isarescu said. "The interest of us all, of the Romanian economy, of the banks, of the Ministry of Finances is to stabilize and correlate the exchange rate and the macro fundaments of the economy. Our message also regards the expectations, the prognoses can transform in reality. We should take care of the currency exchange", Isarescu said.

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