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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 12:57 GMT
Romania clinches steel sale
Bucharest skyline
Romania is aiming for membership of the European Union
The Romanian government has completed one of its biggest privatisations so far, with the sale of sheet metal producer Sidex.

Sidex accounts for 4% of Romania's economic output and 600,000 jobs rely on the company, which has now been sold to London-based LNM for an estimated $500m.

On Tuesday, the Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase sought to convince British businesses that now was the time to invest in Romania.

In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Mr Nastase stressed Romania's potential, as a country of 23 million consumers.

Way ahead?

Romania's four-year programme assumes a minimum annual growth rate of more than 4%, seen as ambitious in the global economic slowdown.

Mr Nastase says that better fiscal policies and better tax collection should help the country to achieve the necessary growth.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said that Romania needs to speed up its privatisation process.

"The successful privatisation of Sidex could signal a crucial turning point for the future industrial development of Sidex," Noreen Doyle, first vice president of the EBRD has said.

Past inertia

Mr Nastase is, however, fed up with the "post-communist" tag so often applied to the country.

"It refers to the past, which has been demolished in certain respects," he told the BBC's World Business Report.

"It is a way of creating a certain inertia - but we want to concentrate much more on the present and the future.

"We have made a lot of major changes with the economy, the institutions, democracy and human rights, so we don't want to be reminded about circumstances we couldn't influence after the Second World War."

Corruption

In the four-month period following Mr Nastase's appointment, 195 senior officials were arrested and charged.

"Corruption became worse when we entered a strange period of communist mentality and wild capitalism," he said.

"Some people made huge fortunes overnight. Civil servants witnessed that and wanted their own share."

"Now we are getting back to normality and we have created better legislation to fight corruption," he added.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase
"In many respects we have demolished our past."
See also:

11 Aug 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Romania struggles to escape past
09 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Romania
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