Political row over Bechtel motorway contract in Romania bitters

By bne IntelliNews August 8, 2013

Former Romanian transport minister Anca Boagiu [PDL, opposition] says that she filed a criminal complaint against current minister Dan Sova, accusing him of hiding the contract signed back in 2004 by the government with US company Bechtel for the construction of the 415-km motorway Brasov-Bors [Transilvania], Agerpres reported.

In return, Sova said that he is still looking for the contract and, in case he is not able to find it, he will request the other original version of the contract that must be held by Bechtel. Sova also said that those responsible for the contract's disappearance will be investigated.

The opposition accuses the government for the failure of the Brasov-Bors motorway project that was drafted and contracted during the leftist cabinet of former PM Adrian Nastase and was cancelled seven years later in 2013 by another leftist cabinet. In the meantime only some 52km were delivered against public payments of as much as EUR 1.4bn.

Current PM Victor Ponta -- ironically a protegee of PM Nastase who arranged the contract with Bechtel, announced earlier this year that there is nothing wrong with the contract.

IntelliNews Comment: The raw over the Bechtel contract is only the latest episode of a chain of increasingly frequent arguments between President Basescu and PM Ponta after the two seemed to have reached an agreement over their co-habitation.

This occurs at the same time when the tensions between the senior and junior partners in the ruling coalition are rising. After leftist PSD won a major victory in last autumn's parliamentary elections it is unlikely that the president plans to challenge its position as leading ruling party.

But the outcome of the autumn 2014 presidential elections tends to be less clear in favour of ruling coalition's candidate Crin Antonescu [PNL, junior ruling] as the government's credibility among voters is decreasing quickly. President Basescu still has own political agenda and his protegees, even if he will probably not return directly in the domestic political activity after his term expires at the end of 2014.

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