Romania is the latest country to hit the headlines following a proposed parliamentary bill from the Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea and PSD senator Serban Nicolae, who are pushing for the National Bank of Romania to keep the majority of the nation’s gold reserves in the country.
Romania, through the National Bank (BNR), owns 103 tonnes of gold bullion in reserve, worth an estimated $3.84 billion (£2.9 billion).
The bill put forward to the senate requires the National Bank of Romania to deposit no more than 5% of the nation’s total gold reserve for the purpose of trading or other income-earning processes, while the politicians in question told Romanian media that nothing justifies keeping the majority of Romania’s gold abroad.
The Bank of England currently holds most of Romania’s national reserves but given the recent refusal to return gold to Venezuela there could be some concerns from the Balkan state that the gold is not in safe hands.
The move is likely to attract the attention of the European Central Bank, though the men behind the bill stress that the gold will stay in the possession of the National Bank, rather than with the government like Italy’s populist coalition is proposing.
The governor of Romania’s central bank, Mugur Isarescu, reacted angrily to the bill being put to the senate, telling local reporters: “I have been accused that I keep the reserves abroad. As if I am the one to keep them, as if they were mine. Where do you want us to keep them? These are international reserves; do you think the euros and the dollars are kept in BNR's basement? They are kept in reserves.”
World Gold Council figures highlighted 2018 as the biggest year for central bank reserve purchases of physical gold for over 50 years, with more than 650 tonnes of the precious metal being bought to diversify national reserves against the forecast economic slowdowns set to continue this year.