Business leaders must help Romania “shed the last shackles of communism and corruption,” and become “economically strong…. a society respecting the rule of law,” the U.S. ambassador to Romania has said.
The ambassador, Adrian Zuckerman, said the country was ready to “unleash its true economic potential, but can do so only by enacting common sense business laws and regulations, and putting an end to endemic corruption, which will lead to enormous economic benefits and prosperity.”
In unusually outspoken remarks made to members of the American Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Zuckerman said “the ability of politically-connected oligarchs and barons to control business interests and limit free market competition must end.”
He warned that Romania was losing workers “not because they can make more money elsewhere, they are leaving because they are losing hope.”
He said graft was to blame for illegal logging and the loss of “vast tracts of pristine woodland and causing environmental damage.”
“An efficient, lawful plan for forest harvesting would provide not only much greater economic benefits, but environmental benefits as well,” he said. Environment Minister Costel Alexe said half of the 40 million cubic meters of wood harvested last year was illegal logging.
He said that to achieve economic growth “Romania must ensure a reliable and transparent judicial and criminal system. “
“Criminals should not have the ability to retain any ill-gotten gains. The elites, the politically connected and the corrupt barons should not have a safe haven,” he said.
He praised the current Liberal minority government which will seek to be approved by parliament on Monday after it was ousted in a no-confidence vote.
“They have all been working exceedingly long hours to reverse the mess they inherited in November 2019,” he said, adding: “the finance minister found the prior government was keeping two sets of books and had not paid most invoices for services rendered for almost a year.”