For Luciana Bizgan, Romania’s presidential race could mean she’ll never again turn up for work wearing rubber boots. Across the nation of 20 million, the second-most populous of the European Union’s newer members, Romanians are witnessing Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s bid for president triggering a spending glut on streets, schools and churches. Bizgan, 36, a seamstress, wants her dirt road in the southern town of Turnu Magurele asphalted so rain doesn’t dictate her footwear. “I just hope this time it’s my street’s turn,” she said. The EU’s second-poorest member, whose post-communist transformation has pushed bond yields to record lows, is loosening the purse strings a year after exiting monitoring by the bloc for fiscal slackness. Next year’s budget shortfall may balloon to double the government target, leaving a headache for Ponta’s successor, should the prime minister turn his poll lead into victory in a Nov. 16 runoff.
“The government will have to make some significant adjustments next year to meet the deficit-cutting plan,” Ionut Dumitru, head of the Romanian Fiscal Council, an independent advisory body set up at the behest of international lenders, said in an interview in Bucharest.
Romania’s fiscal gap swelled to as much as 7.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 as the government splashed out to boost pensions and raise public wages, even as the global economic chaos following Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s demise curtailed tax revenue.