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Romanian PM reshuffles cabinet after poll defeat

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Bucharest, Dec 14: Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta reshuffled his leftist government today, a month after his surprise defeat in presidential elections. Ponta told reporters that the new line-up, which is expected to easily pass in a parliamentary vote Monday, aims to "keep Romania on the path of economic growth and continue the reforms launched in the past two years."

The ruling Social Democrats and their coalition partners were the main winners in the reshuffle. Several little-known lawmakers from the government parties were given ministries previously held by technocrats. The economy ministry went to Social Democratic lawmaker Mihai Tudose, who has no experience in the area.


Budget Minister Darius Valcov's remit was expanded to include finance after the two ministries were merged. There were no changes in the foreign or defence ministries. Ponta said he hoped for better cooperation with centre-right president-elect Klaus Iohannis, who takes office on December 21, than with his predecessor, Traian Basescu.

Relations were often stormy between Ponta and the conservative Basescu. Ponta was seen as the frontrunner in last month's election but was beaten in the runoff by Iohannis, an ethnic German who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform.

The reshuffle came days after officials from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union -- suppliers of a 2009 bailout package -- visited Bucharest to discuss the government's 2015 draft budget. The budget is based on a forecast of 2.5 percent growth and a deficit of 1.83 percent of GDP, up from a previous deficit estimate of 1.4 per cent. The lenders gave the budget the provisional thumbs-up but opposed Ponta's bid to increase defence spending by 0.3 percent of GDP.


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