Romanian lower house scraps privileged pensions

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Romanian Parliament, passed on Tuesday a law abolishing all privileged pensions except those of former police and military, news agency Agerpres reports.

The so-called privileged pensions applied to former soldiers, law enforcement, secret service members, members of parliament, judges and pilots and averaged RON 18,180 (EUR 3,842) compared with the national pension average of RON 1,227 (EUR 259).

These pensions had been a permanent grievance of the average citizen, as they mainly rewarded persons who have managed to remain in influential positions after communist rule ended in December 1989.

The most blatant case of these pensions is that of former communist, county chief prosecutor and prison commander Gheorghe Bălășoiu who had the highest pension in Romania of a net RON 66,701 (EUR 14,098), as of last August. To put that in perspective, his monthly pension was equivalent to 15 (!) years of Romania’s minimum pension, or the average net wage in Romania for a year and ten months.

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) did not vote the law, saying it was only window dressing and did little to solve the underlying problem.

“RMDSZ did not vote the law regarding special pensions because it is just a facade that does not solve the problem itself”, RMDSZ spokeswoman Csilla Hegedüs said. “The law passed Tuesday in Parliament only eliminates 12% of the total value of these pensions, meaning that out of RON 9.7 billion it still leaves a state expense of 8.5 billion.”

She said the budget saving only covers one fifth of the government’s intended funding of additional child allowances, thus RMDSZ abstained from voting.

Title image: The lower house of the Romanian Parliament votes on discontinuing privileged pensions (Agerpres/Mihai Poziumschi)

Author: Dénes Albert