The upper house also rejected, yesterday, several projects included among the Government’s immediate priorities.
The opposition won, yesterday, the first round in the match with the president and ruling coalition lawmakers, setting, in the Senate’s Labour Panel, the retirement age at 60 for women and at 64 for men. Earlier this month, after the pensions’ law was passed under serious defrauding suspicions, with the opposition warning the president to starting impeachment procedures had he promulgated the law, Traian Basescu sent the law back into Parliament. He asked lawmakers to make one modification, namely lowering the retirement age for women from 65 to 63. Basescu argued, at the time, that women have a hard life, as alongside their jobs, they have ‘to see to the home and raise children’.
Labour Minister Ioan Botis left the debates after the opposition’s vote. “As far as I am concerned, after talks on this provision, I no longer see a point in my presence on the panel,” the minister stated. He added that the government did not support the new provision, and that if the latter wished to start afresh the debate on the law as a whole, “the discussion is needless”.
Other amendments passed by the committee include the elimination of special categories from the state pension system (military, police, lawyers etc.) and setting the maximum period of contribution to the pension system to 30 years compared to 35 as mentioned in the original law, while the minimum contribution period was set at 10 years, as opposed to 15. The Panel’s meeting on Tuesday was extremely tense. While the Social Democrats group called for the re-examination of the law in all its aspects, the PDL Senators argued talks should focus exclusively on the provision mentioned by Basescu. At any rate, it is hard to believe that the Panel’s yesterday decision might pass through the Senate’s assembly. Even if the new text is to pass Senate, it probably wouldn’t matter as the law is to be re-examined in turn by the lower Chamber, which is the decisional body in this case. Minister Botis warned about this likelihood before leaving the Panel proceedings.
After passing almost all amendments filed by the opposition, the Labour Committee gave its final ‘OK’ to the report accepting President Basescu’s request for re-examination of the pensions’ law.
“WASTED” DAY IN THE SENATE
The Senate assembly was unable to vote, yesterday, the new make-up of the National Integrity Council (CNI) and the proceedings of the Upper Chamber were suspended owing to lack of quorum, after several PDL and UDMR Senators left the hall. Initially, the leader of the PDL Senators’ group, Cristian Radulescu, proposed that the vote on the new members of CNI be adjourned for next week, to take place at the same time as the vote on the appointment of the new president of the National Authority for the Monitoring of Processing Personal Data. The assembly rejected his proposal and, after two recesses for consultations with the group leaders, the chair of the session, Liberal Teodor Melescanu, found there was no quorum and suspended the session. When proceedings were resumed, the opposition senators, taking advantage of their colleagues’ absence, rejected five bills. Three of these were legislative priorities for the Government, including one meant to modify the law on granting asylum in Romania. The PSD Senators claimed, after the session, that the ruling coalition no longer holds the majority in the Upper Chamber. “I think we’ve proved this today by all the bills that came up for debate. Even what with the independent group, the ruling coalition were overwhelmed, this gives us a better shot in tomorrow’s no-confidence vote and I would like to tell our colleagues in PDL that it is shameful to flee like a coward when you know you’re losing,” PSD senator Lia Olguta Vasilescu stated.