Communications minister: I don’t believe in programmes designed to bring back Romanians living abroad; We must make Romania more attractive

Aurel Dragan 13/12/2018 | 16:00

Communications and Information Society (MCSI) minister Alexandru Petrescu does not believe in programmes developed to convince Romanians living abroad to return home. He says that they will return when Romania will be better and when the market will be more attractive.

“One of the projects in my mandate will be ‘Romania communicates’. What we lack is an integrated vision; we’ve talked about the Estonian model yesterday, which requires decisions and an integrated plan, and that is another priority of my term as minister. The programme will bring together all these projects at the level of the local administration. Local efforts are not uniform. The labor force is free to circulate in the European Union and that’s why we are proud to be part of the European family. On the other hand, I am concerned that we need to find more motivation for graduates working abroad to return to Romania. There are many people who want to set up businesses in cities such as Timisoara, Iasi, Cluj or Bucharest. I don’t believe in programmes devoted to the Romanians living in the Diaspora. I say that the Romanians abroad will return to Romania when the country will be doing better. For that, we have to make efforts to bring attractiveness in the field, on the market,” said Petrescu.

The minister noted that the digital sector is the most promising in terms of progress and economic development, and in terms of the digital economy Romania is only 3 percent behind Sweden or Denmark.

“We all face the same challenges, especially with the narrowing of the differences between northern, central and eastern Europe. Over the last decade, Romania has been connected to the world capital flow, and the European Union and the OECD members have facilitated this interaction, and all of this will lead to prosperity and better lives for all of us. We have had events such as the three seas conference in an attempt to achieve convergence on this plane and achieve success in digital interconnection. Digital economy is the most promising in terms of progress and economic development, compared to Sweden or Denmark, we are only 3 percent behind the digital economy, Romania has seen growth and a positive trend towards the economy companies can enjoy the benefits of this digitization. Both the public sector and the private one have to make investments. The Romanians are very well known in the world because of their talent in the field of digital technology. Interesting and important startups have been set up,” said the official.

Petrescu added that the Bucharest authorities should turn their attention to the growth potential at home, but also to cooperation with neighboring countries.

“We must, however, focus our attention on domestic growth potential, through working relationships with our neighbors. In two weeks Romania will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, an opportunity for Romania that needs a clear approach. We are in a favorable situation because we can bring significant results to digitization. We have four priorities: innovation, cyber security, promoting digital competences and supporting women’s involvement in the IT industry, and achieving access to the digital single market. We also have to address all the regulatory barriers, prepare for 5G with the necessary infrastructure and come up with tangible results with the involvement of all actors,” said the Minister.

The US Atlantic Council, together with McKinsey & Company, is organizing on Thursday a conference to  launching the report “The rise of Digital Challengers – how digitization can become the next growth engine for Romania”.

According to the document, the potential economic benefits of digitization could contribute to Romania’s Gross Domestic Product by EUR 42 billion by 2025. Experts see that Romania has a strong foundation on which to digitize it. Thus, the size of the digital economy in Romania (6.9 percent of GDP in 2016) is above the average of the Central and Eastern European countries (CEE) of 6.5 percent, but at the same time is clearly deviated from the ‘ Digital Frontrunners’, like Sweden (9 percent).

With EUR 604/capita, Romania is behind the CEE average, where the average is EUR 746/capita, and the countries in the Digital Frontrunners – with EUR 3,276/capita. Also, the digital economy in Romania registered an increase of 10.8 percent per year between 2012 and 2016, almost four times faster than the EU’s “Big 5”.

On the other hand, in terms of professional training in the field, the quoted report shows that almost eight times more Romanians should participate in training courses to reach the level of ‘Digital Frontrunners’, which includes countries such as: Belgium , Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

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