Romania has directed western banks handling its accounts to stop paying its creditors and has requested a long delay in repaying about $2.4 billion of its hard currency debt, according to European and American banking sources.
The amount proposed for the "limited rescheduling" is about one-fourth of the Soviet bloc country's total western currency debt and is about twice as much as had been anticipated by analysts.
Western bankers and Romanian officials met Thursday in Frankfurt, West Germany, to discuss the debt. Romania is reported to be more than $1 billion in arrears to banks and companies and is obligated to repay another $4.3 billion of its total debt of $10 billion in 1982.
U.S. bankers met in New York City Monday to consider the debt problem.
According to a Dow Jones dispatch from Frankfurt quoting banking sources, Romania has offered to repay commercial lenders $600 million owed in 1982 on condition that the lenders agree to string out repayment of another $2.4 billion owed in 1981 and 1982 for 6 1/2 years.
The remainder of the country's 1982 debt is due to foreign governments, the International Monetary Fund or other international lending institutions.
U.S. officials said yesterday that they have received no indications that Romania plans to seek delays in repaying government loans.
Earlier this year, Romania fell behind by $5.8 million in its payments to the Commodity Credit Corp., but brought the accounts current last week after newspaper publicity and a sharp warning from the State Department.
Romania exported an estimated $7.4 billion of machinery, agricultural products, fertilizer and petrochemicals in 1981 but still suffered an estimated $1 billion trade deficit, mainly because of high costs of imported Mideast oil.
A reliable source said that in addition to the debt rescheduling proposal, the Romanian Bank for Foreign Trade had also advised bankers to stop paying companies and other suppliers pending a resolution of the problems. Under normal procedure, banks handling accounts for foreign governments pay creditors out of a revolving fund that is replenished.
In effect, the source said, the Romanians were telling the banks that they would no longer be reimbursed for these payments.
In return for concessions to the Romanians, western bankers and the IMF have been demanding more accurate information about the country's actual finances.
In a report Monday, Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates said it is certain that most information published in the Communist Party paper Scinteia last month on the five-year plan "is incorrect either by design or sheer incompetence of the reporting officials."
WEFA added that data supplied by Romania to the IMF also "makes little sense and appears to be unrelated to other trade information Romania publishes."