“It is a little worse than we had expected. When we negotiated the loan arrangement, we’ve reviewed the available details and projected an economic growth of -4.1 percent in 2009. In the second half of 2010, we expect the economic growth to turn positive”, Lybek told The Money Channel.

Romania’s gross domestic product dropped in first quarter this year by 6.2% year-on-year, according to statistics made public on Tuesday by the National Institute of Statistics, who revised downward the contraction level from prior estimates of 6.4%.

Lybek stressed that first quarter GDP stood below IMF’s projections in several countries hence Romania is “no exceptional case”.

“I understand that at the beginning of a recession, first quarter is marked by sharp slowdown, but we closely monitor the situation and review not only GDP but also May and April indicators. These assessments are made on a quarterly basis, and IMF’s mission is due to arrive in early August and we will report to the board in the second half of September”, said Lybek.

The economic assessment due in August will also take into account the impact of economic contraction on state revenues and macroeconomic numbers including payment balance gap which will surely narrow, IMF representative continued.

Romania’s payment balance gap narrowed by 82.1% in first quarter this year, down to 709 million euros following major contraction of trade deficit and containment of the current payment surplus at high levels.