An IMF expert team is expected in Bucharest on Jan 21 to complete the first quarterly review of the stand-by agreement (SBA) with Romania and start talks on the second quarterly assessment, Ziarul Financiar daily announced. The visit is scheduled to end on Feb 3. The agreement with the IMF is not suspended and Romania is implementing all the steps agreed under the first quarterly review, budget minister Liviu Voinea said this week in Vienna , while attending Euromoney's Central and Eastern European Forum 2014. Even if the Letter of Intent drafted by the government under the first quarterly review is not yet sealed by both parties, the agreement remains on track. As regards the parallel agreement with the EU, on the balance of payment support, it is a subject to half-year assessments with the first one scheduled for January, Voinea added. Romania's SBA programme with the IMF turned uncertain when President Traian Basescu refused to formally endorse the conclusions of the first quarterly review – particularly the government's decision on hiking the car fuel excise taxes. The government and Basescu reached a compromise as the executive has postponed the tax hike – although Basescu still advocates against such tax hikes at any time, while on the other hand it remains unclear whether the budget planning without the revenues generated by a higher excise tax is still realistic.
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