The Romanian Parliament has passed the new pensions law.
The Chamber of Deputies in
Bucharest on Monday passed the bill on the public pensions system through an
emergency procedure, following a similar move by the Senate. On the same day, the
Chamber of Deputies' specialist committee also clarified a controversial
provision that would have led to the decrease of certain pensions after the
recalculation made through the new law. They also established that miners can
still retire at the age of 45. Additional points are granted to miners who
worked underground and persons who worked in the research and exploitation of
nuclear raw material.
The new law provides, among
others, for the gradual standardisation of the retirement age for men and women
at 65, and additional points for contribution periods exceeding 25 years. Prime
minister and Social Democrat leader Marcel Ciolacu said the new pensions law is
fair and predictable, was agreed with the World Bank and the European
Commission and is sustainable. Marcel Ciolacu said pensions will go up twice
next year, in January by 13.8% and again by recalculation. Labour minister Simona Bucura-Oprescu said the provisions of the new
law comply with the equality and contribution principles.
The opposition, however, criticised the hasty manner
in which the debates were held and the rejection of all the amendments proposed
by the opposition parties, the Save Romania Union, the Alliance for the Union
of Romanians and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania. Moreover,
these parties believe the pensions increase provided for under the new law is
not financially sustainable. Antonio Andruşceac, from the Alliance for the
Union of Romanians:
"How are we to believe that these things, even in the
formula you have proposed, will be carried through if you were never able to
explain what the budget source is?"
In response, prime minister Marcel Ciolacu gave
assurances that the funds will be found for the increases promised:
"There are 4,800,000 pensioners in Romania. 80% earn
less than 3,000 lei [around 600 euros], 60% less than 2,000 lei [around 400
euros]. The Romanian state must ensure the resources. I'm firmly convinced that
we will find the entire sum when we come up with the budget bill."
The opposition also says that the new law does not
actually deal with the inequalities in the system and that people with big
pensions will again stand to gain the most. Cristian Seidler, from the Save
"The Save Romania Union wants bigger pensions and a
fair pensions system, but we are opposed to this legalised lie and the budget
chaos you are consciously creating."
The former Liberal labour minister and unaffiliated MP
Violeta Alexandru also criticised the law, saying it generated chaos and fear,
although it should have been the clearest bill debated by the ruling coalition
formed by the Social Democrats and the Liberals. The Social Democrat Marius Budăi,
himself a former labour minister, said the new law fully complies with the
principles of fairness, solidarity and respect for labour. (CM)