Romanian govt. to cap price of firewood, send some to Moldova
The Romanian government is poised to adopt an emergency ordinance capping firewood at RON 400 (EUR 81) per cubic meter. Another government act will have 130,000 cubic meters of firewood delivered to Moldova.
The cap will be in effect for several types of firewood, including sawdust. Wooden fire starters and wood pellets will also be capped at RON 1,500 and RON 2,000 per ton, respectively. The prices include VAT.
The capped prices apply to consumers, including natural persons, public and private units of education, providers of social services, administrative units and subordinate departments, and religious centers until March 31, 2023.
Environment NGO WWF Romania reacted to the government's plan to cap the price of firewood, saying that "the expected positive effects will turn into an avalanche of negative side effects." According to the organization, the measure could lead to the illegal exploitation of wood, as those selling firewood would most likely try to find ways to cut costs to meet the price ceiling. For example, WWF says, they could "abandon" certain standards and use shortcuts and unskilled workers to take the wood out of the forest, because "it is cheaper."
"It then decides not to declare the full amount of wood on the invoice and shipping documents/SUMAL and to use the truck overload method. In the end, it "shams" the state and contributes to the revival of chaos, through illegal cuts and tax evasion," reads WWF Romania's statement.
The NGO further explained that this would most likely affect the disadvantaged population the government actually tries to protect: "Before long, the amount of legal timber available on the market will decrease. The demand will increase, especially in winter, so the needs will be covered by illegal and untaxed wood."
A possible solution would be to offer compensation vouchers to people, WWF Romania also said. "Those who use wood for heating will be compensated with a fixed amount per cubic meter of wood, within the limit of a reasonable amount per household. Provided they are accompanied by the invoice and notice."
Log exports are banned in Romania since 2020, and the Environment Ministry recently debated halting all firewood exports, including those to other EU countries, according to Profit.ro. Propositions to that end were eventually discarded.
At the same time as capping the price of firewood, the government acknowledged the dire situation in Moldova. Half of the people living in the small Eastern republic, or 680,000 households, could use firewood this winter to make up for the lack of Russian natural gas. In this context, and to answer requests for support advanced by Moldovan PM Maia Sandu, the Romanian government plans to send 130,000 cubic meters of firewood to Moldova.
The deliveries will be made at a discounted price. Moldova will pay in total RON 26 mln (EUR 5.2 mln) for the firewood, or RON 200 per cubic meter.