BUCHAREST Jan 14 Romania's central bank could
reduce lenders' minimum reserve requirements to European Union
levels over a period of time "that is not too lengthy", central
bank Governor Mugur Isarescu was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
In a surprise move earlier this month, Romania's central
bank lowered its minimum reserve requirement for liabilities in
both leu and foreign currencies, at the same time that it cut
its benchmark interest rate to a new record low.
The minimum reserve requirement now stands at 12 percent for
lei deposits and 18 percent for those in foreign currencies,
down from 15 percent and 20 percent respectively.
They are still the highest reserve requirements in central
and eastern Europe and far above western European levels.
"Looking at the real situation in Romania, we believe
harmonising (reserve levels to European levels) could be made
with small, successive steps during a period that is not too
lengthy," Isarescu told local news agency Mediafax.
"Anyway, when we say harmonising, we do not mean a level of
2 percent, but a consistent close proximity to EU levels."
Romania began a cycle of monetary easing later than its
emerging EU peers due to persistently high inflation. It also
postponed cutting its minimum reserve requirements, fearing
capital outflows during the financial crisis.
Isarescu said the economic outlook had changed and with
fiscal consolidation now underway, Romania could handle
deleveraging, as long as it is "moderate and controlled", with
the easing in monetary policy offsetting its impact.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Gareth Jones)