Romanian president asks finance minister Citu to form government

·1-min read
Prime Minister-designate Florin Citu attends a news conference, alongside former interim PM Ludovic Orban, after being nominated to form a transitional government

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's centrist president Klaus Iohannis asked finance minister Florin Citu on Tuesday to lead a centre-right coalition government able to shore up public finances and boost investment.

Citu’s centrist Liberals, who have ruled for the past year, will team up with the centre-right grouping USR-Plus and the ethnic Hungarian party UDMR.

Party leaders said a vote of confidence to endorse the new cabinet could take place in parliament late on Wednesday. The coalition will control around 55% of parliamentary seats, a majority that analysts say may be relatively fragile.

The cabinet faces the daunting task of restoring confidence in an economy that has been hurt by years of fiscal largesse and political instability, coupled with neglect of rundown infrastructure and public services, which have brought Romania's sovereign debt to the brink of losing its investment-grade status.

"I will do everything possible to ensure a stable and long-lived government," Citu said after his appointment as prime minister-designate.

Both the Liberals and USR-Plus have pledged to reverse efforts by previous leftist-led cabinets to undermine the independence of the judiciary as it scrutinises corruption and misuse of funds. Recent years have seen huge anti-corruption protests.

Citu has yet to unveil his cabinet line-up and governing programme. In addition, individual ministers must submit to parliamentary hearings before a confidence vote.

The relatively poor European Union state of under 20 million people has reported almost 600,000 coronavirus cases and 14,636 deaths this year, and expects its economy to contract by 4.2%.

Ratings agencies have Romania on their lowest investment grade with negative outlooks.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Kevin Liffey)