„ROBOR index has not beeen manipulated by the banks” and the National Bank of Romania „is not playing with the monetary policy”, said central bank governor Mugur Isarescu during hearings in the Senate’s joint economic and budget committees on Tuesday.
Isarescu explained that the ROBOR Index has remained to a lower level in the past as long as the inflation was also down and that interests are increasing up with inflation.
ALDE senator Daniel Zamfir andthe Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu also attended the hearings, with Daniel Zamfir asking governor Isarescu if ROBOR has been manipulated by banks.
„ROBOR is not manipulated. There is no cartel-like deal among banks. ROBOR has been up, it is normal, considering the inflation has been also up”, Isarescu retorted.
„The interests have increased up with inflation (…) When inflation was negative, very low, there was no demand deficit, with high pay rises. It was negative inflation and a high economic growth. Back then, BNR has allowed the interest to 1,75%,” the BNR governor added, stressing that „low interests are in the past, considering that inflation has significantly increased in the last year”.
Mugur Isărescu also stated that to accuse that the banking market is manipulated means to also accuse the state Treasure that it is joining these manipulations.
Cross talk between Zamfir and Isarescu has not missed the debate either, when the ALDE senator told the governor that „we won’t discuss about the retirement bonus that you received without being retired, or about the wine business”, hinting to the wine growing business Isarescu has in Dragasani.
While senator Daniel Zamfir reproached Isarescu that “he came for the hearings just to deliver a speech and not to answer questions“, Senate Speaker Tariceanu stated that MPs are though willing to also receive suggestions from the BNR representatives, in order to cut the financing costs for companies.
“Can we take the debate to a more favorable path? Can we do something together? We don’t want to just ask questions, we can also get suggestions”, Tariceanu said, arguing that the Romanian companies are borrowing money from banks under expensive conditions, although they represent the largest contributor to the state budget compared to the multinational firms, while they cannot borrow money from the international markets.
Tariceau added that, taking into account that LIBOR has been manipulated, “we cannot rule out the ROBOR manipulation” either.
Isarescu slams the tax on greed
At the same time, Mugur Isărescu has told senators that the ordinance that introduced the tax on the banks’ assets is at least “a failure”, as it impacts on the monetary policy.
“If we rise the interests in case of an attack against RON, we practically kill the banks”, the BNR governor argued. “It is an attack against the independence of the institution (…) We already have signals from the Central European Bank“, he added.