On Wednesday, the two houses of the Romanian Parliament passed a draft bill on the abolition of the special pension for lawmakers. The members of the House of Deputies and Senate voted almost unanimously, with 357 votes in favor of the bill. The 30 MPs of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym RMDSZ) were present at the joint session but abstained from voting. “RMDSZ calls for the simultaneous abolition of all categories of special pensions. Otherwise, this whole parliamentary procedure is nothing but cheap populism and demagogy,” said RMDSZ’s Senate faction leader, Lóránd Turos, at the debate.
As the first order of business, the two houses of Parliament appointed on Wednesday a joint parliamentary committee to discuss the three draft bills regarding special pensions, submitted by the Social Democrats, the National Liberals (PNL) and the USR-PLUS alliance. Furthermore, the lawmakers agreed that they will vote on the recommended draft the same day.
Eventually, the committee adopted PSD’s legislative proposal, but some amendments proposed by the other two parties were also included in the final draft.
In his speech preceding the vote, the speaker of the House of Deputies, the former National Liberal Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, underlined that “no one should be given prerogatives.” “Laws should serve the interests of the citizens, and it is time for parliament to prove its worth,” he said. Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister and co-president of USR-PLUS, Dan Barna, said: “The Romanian pension system needs many corrections. Today, we will take a small step forward in correcting this system.”
“The way political parties abolish the special pensions today is nothing but cheap populism, demagogy and deception,” Lóránd Turos pointed out,
speaking for RMDSZ. “RMDSZ can only vote for the abolition of special pensions if it applies to all categories. This whole parliamentary procedure does not, in fact, solve an unfair situation, and it does not reduce the burden on the state budget,” emphasized the Senate faction leader. “We can only support a contributory pension plan, which requires that the letter of the law is equally applied to everyone. The service pension of MPs is only 1.38 percent of all special pensions; meanwhile, 74.09 percent of this sum consists of the special allowances for judges and prosecutors. Moreover, some also earn a paycheck in addition to their special pension, at times, from the state itself. This is how they get a monthly income of RON 70,000 (EUR 14,350). RMDSZ cannot support this unjust system,” Turos detailed.
At the moment, the state pays special pensions for some 875 former parliamentarians, with an average monthly benefit of RON 5,843, which is about EUR 1,200. The value of the average retirement pension in Romania is around RON 1,500, which is about EUR 307,
the kronikonline.ro news portal wrote in one piece.
In 2015, the Romanian Parliament approved that MPs can claim benefits in addition to their regular pensions after reaching the official retirement age. The special allowances are proportional to one’s term in office, and the sums do not increase after completing three full mandates. The largest parliamentary pension supplement can be some RON 12,000, which is around EUR 2,400.
The issue of the huge special state allowances from which soldiers, police officers, intelligence agents, judges, prosecutors, pilots, diplomats, finance inspectors and MPs can benefit, was in focus during last December’s parliamentary election campaign as well. In fact, there have already been several legislative attempts to eliminate these special pensions, but the initiatives have always failed — for some unknown reason.
For instance, parliament voted last year to abolish all special pensions, but the law adopted was rejected by the Constitutional Court, which claimed that the abolition of such acquired rights is not constitutional.
Subsequently, lawmakers tried to impose an 85 percent tax on special allowances exceeding RON 7,000, but last December, the Constitutional Court rejected this regulation as well. Some have already pointed out that the draft law adopted this Wednesday is also questionable in terms of constitutional norms, so it seems that the never-ending story continues…
As Romanian Minister of Labor and Public Protection Raluca Turcan said in a recent statement, about 4.9 million Romanian retirees receive a pension of RON 1,500 per month on average. At the same time, the average of the 9,500 special pensions given is RON 9,600.
Title image: The parliamentary representatives of RMDSZ did not vote on the draft, claiming that is nothing but cheap populism and does not solve the real problem.