The situation that Romania, but more importantly Bucharest, is dealing with is a combination of a lack of education (of the population) and weak political models, which are fostering conspiracy theories among the population. Since the authorities are overwhelmed by the situation caused by the pandemic, they are trying to save face by using Ceaușescu-like methods, economist Mircea Cosea says.
“When the snow fell, roads were closed, not cleared, in the Ceaușescu-era,”
Cosea told Romanian news portal Ziare. From his perspective, what the government is doing now is close to that kind of approach. “When you apply such methods, you are deeply wrong. From now on, no one can stop the free fall of the Romanian economy unless another vision is applied,” he warned.
First, we need to accept this period of “war,” and we have to live with it. Even during war, the economy of a country works because it has to. Now, we are living in similar times, and what drives the economy is the construction industry. However, the restrictions applied by the government in the red scenario will ultimately choke the Romanian economy, Cosea foresees.
As of now, in many cities of the country, the red scenario is active, which means schools are closed and many institutions have switched to remote work because of COVID-19 infections. The problem is that the government didn’t foresee the direct results of working online: Activities slow down, which in the end will have disastrous effects on the economy.
In other countries, the focus is on identifying the focal points of coronavirus infections, and efforts are concentrated on curbing the spread of the disease, Cosea said. “Any slowdown of activities will suffocate the industrial activities in Bucharest because we are a subcontractor economy: We work on demand for big foreign companies, and this will lead to order cancellations, which will then trigger the closure of factories,” he added.
The government should help its citizens to respect the rules it imposes. “On the one hand, we must admit with much embarrassment that we have fellow citizens who are irresponsible and simply don’t care and who spread the disease to the people surrounding them. On the other hand, the population has not seen a viable example of how to behave. When our leaders spoke to Romanians without wearing a mask and without respecting the recommended social distancing, people had the impression that everything was a manipulation. One might then think that if one doesn’t follow the rules, there is no real danger,” Cosea concluded.
Title image: Romania’s PM Ludovic Orban and Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romanian communist politician and leader