The country currently has more than 64,000 certified IT professionals, according to Gartner, and plays host to large offices of companies including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Bitdefender, and Vodafone.
It may be the second poorest country in the European Union, but Romania is leading Europe in technology workers per capita, and ranks sixth in the world.
The language skills of its IT workers and the low cost of its technology services are the biggest selling points for the country’s technology industry, research company Gartner reports.
However, its mix of technology savvy and poverty means that software piracy is rife in the country. Last year, 62 percent of the PCs in Romania ran illegal software, according to IDC — a figure which hasn’t changed in the past two years.
Romania’s piracy rate is twice that of the EU average, where illegal software is used on 31 percent of machines, and 50 percent higher than the global average of 43 percent.
Software piracy and the large numbers of developers are “absolutely” connected, says Mihai Moldovanu, lead developer for the first Romanian Linux distribution TFM Linux, launched in March 2001. Piracy, along with Romania’s high-speed broadband environment and the country’s tax exemption for programmers, have contributed to the large numbers of developers it has today.
"Software piracy for educational purposes created a collective knowledge about coding, algorithms, and everything that derives from that. Some [users] later chose to go for a paid version of the software, while others such as myself opted for open source," Moldovanu says.
The Romanian state reserves the right of postponing the implementation of the schedule for the liberalization of the natural gas price for households until a dispute with the European Commission is settled; therefore, this price will not increase on October 1 as previously scheduled, the Department of Energy informed in a release. (via bakken.com)
A governmental delegation led by the minister for energy Razvan Niculescu participated in consultations with representatives of the Directorate-General for Energy of the European Commission on Monday; the talks concerned national and regional topics of the natural gas industry.
‘There is also a major controversy with the Directorate-General for Enterprise [and Industry] of the European Commission over an alleged ban on natural gas exports from Romania. We have asked the Directorate-General for Energy to get involved into the settlement of this dispute, and they have accepted. We informed about the Romanian state reserving the right of deferring the application of the schedule for the liberalization of the natural gas price for households until this problem is settled. Therefore, we are not going to apply the increase of the price of natural gas agreed by the government led by [Prime Minister Emil] Boc with the European Commission for October 1,’ Niculescu declared.
Romania assumed a liberalization schedule with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission in 2012; according to it, the gas price should increase by 3 percent on October 1 2014.
Monday’s talks in Brussels also covered the situation between Russia and Ukraine, Romania’s interconnection with the neighbouring countries, the potential of the resources in the Black Sea, the European Commission approach to shale gas, and the Commission’s infringement procedure concerning natural gas.
The pipeline cost some 26 million euros ($35 million) and took one year to construct. The EU paid 7 million euros of the cost. Officials said a pipeline from Ungheni to Chisinau is also planned. (via rferl)
The project implementation for which the EU allocated 26 million euro took one year. The EU aimed to connect the Moldovan gas transportation system to the European thus strengthening energy security of Moldova by means of alternative gas supplies from Romania.
The Romanian natural gas price was not disclosed, but Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca told reporters that he hoped that “it will be lower than Russian Gazprom’s price.” According to him, Moldova was in negotiations with the Russian gas holding on the reduction of the price of gas that the republic imports at about $730 for 1,000 cubic metres.
Under an agreement signed in early August by the Romanian Transgaz company and Moldova’s state-run enterprise Vestmoldtransgaz, due to the low capacity of the pipeline, the Romanian gas supplies will not exceed 50 million cubic metres of gas per year, which is about 4% of the country’s annual gas demand (some 1.3 billion cubic metres). For the project’s economic efficiency it is necessary to build the additional branch Ungeny - Chisinau with compressor stations and other transport infrastructure, which will take another 50 million euro in investment. (via RU)
The Hungarian Railways is launching Luxury Golden Eagle train service connecting Budapest to Tehran, making 1-day stop in Romania, with ticket prices between EUR 10,000 and EUR 23,000. Railway enthusiasts with a taste for nostalgia will soon be able to indulge their Orient Express fantasies after Hungarian Railways said it was launching a luxury Budapest-Tehran train service.
Guests will receive “five-star” treatment including complimentary alcohol right up to the Iranian frontier, after which only “soft drinks and non-alcoholic beer” will be served, its brochure said.
“Iran has been opening up towards the west recently, so we thought the time was right to set this up,” Marcella Beke, sales director of the “Nostalgia” branch of the Hungarian state-owned rail operator told AFP Monday.
The first “Golden Eagle-Danube Express” train, which comprises 13 lavishly-decorated wood-panelled 1950s carriages and berths for about 70 guests, will set off from Budapest on October 15.
The two-week trip will cross Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, and take passengers through the ancient Iranian cities of Shiraz and Persepolis before reaching the capital Tehran.
All the berths on the maiden journey have already been snapped up, mostly by British and Australian passengers, Beke told AFP.
“Nostalgia fans needn’t panic, another five trips are scheduled for 2015,” she said.
The last Orient Express — which traditionally linked Paris and Istanbul — ran in 2009, with the luxury Venice Simplon-Orient Express continuing to run services between London and Venice. (via AFP.com)
Romania’s 2014 wheat crop rose to a record 7.4 million tonnes from 7.3 million a year earlier while a rapeseed crop of 1.1 million tonnes marked a 44-year high, the agriculture ministry said on Monday as it gears up for robust maize and sunflower harvests. In the past couple of years, Romania has emerged as a major grains exporter to Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, together with Black Sea producers Russia and Ukraine. (via Romania reaps record cereal crops, eyes bumper sunflower)
Agriculture Minister Daniel Constantin said in a statement that wheat yields edged up to 3.65 tonnes per hectare. Romania grew 2.0 million hectares of wheat.
Farmers also harvested 1.74 million tonnes of barley and two-row barley against 1.51 million tonnes the previous season.
“It’s been a very good year for rapeseed as we’ve got the best crop since 1970,” Constantin said in a statement. “Rains throughout June have created some problems for wheat but they’ve been beneficial for sunflower and maize where we hope to be Europe’s champions again.”
Romania, which achieved a sunflower crop of 2 million tonnes last year, has expanded rapeseed planting to 420,000 hectares from just 105,000 in 2012.
Analysts Strategie Grains had said soft wheat harvesting so far this year had produced fairly poor indications in Italy, Greece and Croatia, good prospects in Spain and satisfactory quality in Romania and Hungary, although below last year’s levels.
The 28-member EU should harvest 140.5 million tonnes of soft wheat, up 1 million tonnes on its June estimate and 4 percent above last year’s crop, Strategie Grains said in a monthly grains report.
I wandered through cobblestone streets, dazzled by the colourful medieval and renaissance architecture, the citadels on the hillsides looking down, picture-perfectly framed by the forested mountain standing tall behind. It could have been Germany’s Rhineland or Bavaria – but I was in Romania and this was Transylvania. Nestled amongst the peaks and plains of the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania was once on the wild edges of Europe. For over 900 years it was under the rule of the Hungarians and Austrians, colonised by Germans, settled by Roma gypsies, and only unifying with Romania after the First World War. (via Mirror Online)
Tax evasion is eating away at the heart of Romania and holding back the country, among the poorest in the European Union, in its efforts to catch up, analysts warn. The estimates for the costs of the so-called black or undeclared economy are huge: about one quarter of economic activity and one quarter of people in work are believed to be beyond the reach of tax inspectors. If all activity were taxed fully, national tax revenues would almost double. Undeclared activity exists across the 28 members of the European Union at a cost of at least 1,000 billion euros ($1,333 billion) per year, the European parliament estimates. (via Yahoo News)
“With revenues accounting for less than 33 percent of GDP, compared to an EU average of 45 percent, Romania will never have an education system as good as Germany’s for instance,” economist Ionut Dumitru, head of the country’s fiscal council, said.
In one of the most spectacular cases uncovered by the DGAF, a network of 30 Turkish, Jordanian and Romanian nationals cheated the government out of 24 million euros in value added sales tax (VAT) dodging. The alleged fraudsters set up a complex chain of 58 dummy companies to cover up their fraudulent operations selling 100 million euros’ worth of fruit and vegetables on the Romanian market. Twelve of them were arrested.
“Another major case concerned a network of 22 Romanian and Chinese nationals who created 15 companies selling household appliances without paying VAT,” DGAF vice-president Romeo Nicolae told AFP. The loss was estimated at 12 million euros.
Alina Bica, head of the prosecutor’s office dealing with organised crime and terrorism, said that fraud schemes were becoming increasingly sophisticated. “Doctored bookkeeping, fictitious companies active for 30 or 40 days before disappearing, concealed revenues from illegal transactions … white-collar criminals find new ways to cheat,” she said. Bica added that 659 large-scale tax dodgers were put on trial in 2013, and frauds estimated to have cost more than 200 million euros were uncovered.
But sometimes tax evasion allegations tarnish the top of the law-enforcement system itself. The former head of the tax agency Sorin Blejnar is facing trial in two cases for alleged complicity in tax evasion related to two criminal rings which defrauded the state of about 60 million euros. One of the rings was headed by Radu and Diana Nemes, two Romanians who were extradited from the US in May this year. The media said the couple owned a yacht, seven vehicles and hundreds of gold and silver coins which they left behind on their multi-million dollar property.
In construction, about 60 percent of employees are not declared.
Last year, in a bid to streamline its tax agency, Romania signed a deal with the World Bank on a 70-million euro loan which will be used mainly to set up an integrated IT system and on training tax inspectors.
In meat-loving Eastern Europe, Romania was an unexpected treat for my vegetarian taste buds. Partly because the country’s orthodox population goes on a vegan fast twice a week or six weeks a year, and partly because the countryside produces some of the finest vegetables and fruits in the region. This is my little guide to vegetarian food in Romania, and the best places to sample Romanian food in Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu and Sighet (via Tasting Romania: A Vegetarian’s Guide to Romanian Food. | The Shooting Star)