A former Communist county chief prosecutor and prison commander has the highest pension in Romania of a net RON 66,701 (EUR 14,098), daily newspaper Adevărul reports. So-called “privileged pensions” have been a regular complaint of average Romanians, but when Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici announced on July 14 a plan to cap them at RON 10,000 opened the floodgates.
In an effort to keep the budget within the government’s target of 2.76 percent of GDP this year, the executive committee of the largest coalition party Social Democrats (PSD) decided to cap privileged pensions and reduce students’ travel discounts. These pensions apply to former soldiers, law enforcement, secret services, members of parliament, judges and pilots and average RON 18,180 (EUR 3,842) compared with the national pension average of RON 1,227 (EUR 259). The privileged pensions will be capped at RON 10,000, with the rest going into a so-called “solidarity tax”.
Bălășoiu was a chief prosecutor in Argeş county and later the commander of the Colibaşi penitenciary. During his last year in service, he literally used every trick in the book to maximize his pension: he did not take any holidays that year, went on as many officials trips as he could – travel costs and daily allowances were added to the last month’s salary – and two weeks before retiring in 2005 he returned to being a prosecutor to lock in forever (or at least until the law changes) his benefits.
But to really understand the magnitude of his pension: it is equivalent to 15 (!) years of the minimum pension in the country or the average net wage in Romania for a year and ten months. Several prosecutors – the single most privileged category within these pensions – have said after hearing the government’s plan that the pension cap is illegal and would most likely fail a constitutional probe.
Title image: Gheorghe Bălășoiu, the man with the highest pension in Romania. (Youtube capture)