The Government offers a choice to parents: a one year-parental leave and a benefit ranging between RON 600 and 3,400 versus a two year-leave and lower benefits, ranging between RON 600 and 1,200.
The Government adopted, yesterday evening, the emergency ordinance regarding the child-raising benefit, offering a choice between two options instead of the measures proposed at the beginning of the week, a sign that pressures exercised by a number of Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) and Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) MPs were not in vain. Thus, parents can opt for one of the following: either a one year-parental leave and maintaining the child-rearing benefit at present levels, ranging between RON 600 – the minimum value – and RON 3,400 – the highest amount -, or a two year-leave, with lower benefits, ranging between RON 600 and 1,200.
Parents have to opt, from the beginning, for one of these alternatives. As regards those currently receiving the benefit, their situation continues unchanged. They don’t have to make a choice and can go on benefiting from the child-care leave until the two year-term is over. The provision according to which those who opt for the one-year leave can benefit from unpaid leave during the second year and a RON 500-monthly incentive if they go back to work also remains in place.
The National Liberal Party (PNL) deputy Mariana Campeanu, former Labour Minister, stated, yesterday, that “talks regarding the child-rearing benefits are just for show, a tango for nothing,” as “the figures are already included in the budget and can be adjusted only by amendments”.
Coalition disputes over the reduction of parental leave continued yesterday too, being doubled by protests.
According to sources quoted by Mediafax, Finance Minister Gheorghe Ialomitianu and Labour Minister Ioan Botis met Premier Emil Boc again before the start of the government meeting. UDMR leader and Deputy Premier Marko Bela, who the day before expressed his opposition to the reduction plan that Emil Boc had announced on Monday evening, was present within the government headquarters too. UDMR was planning to discuss this issue once again with its coalition partners.
Rumors that circulated yesterday morning pointed to Labour Minister Ioan Botis’s resignation but it seems it all amounted to a misunderstanding caused by the fact that journalists witnessed a tense phone conversation the Minister had with a subordinate whom he allegedly asked to resign unless he was able to solve a certain problem. Viorel Alexandru, President of the National Agency for Social Works (ANPS), stated that Minister Botis talked with him on the phone and asked him to resign if he fails to observe a deadline set for presenting the list of public sector employees that receive childcare allowances.
The Organization of Social-Democrat Women asked Ioan Botis to resign, accusing him of “the current chaos within the system.” Likewise, the Social-Democrat women expressed their solidarity with the protest organized by “dozens of mothers disappointed” with the government’s decision to reduce parental leave and childcare allowance.
The reduction plan was criticized within PDL once again yesterday. Democrat-Liberal MP Daniel Oajdea stated that by applying this measure the government will not make any savings in 2011, its effects set to become visible only in 2013. He stated that the savings generated by the measure are very small and the whole “fuss” is not justified. He pointed out that it is difficult to understand what the Labour Ministry’s policy is, considering that the state of the economy in 2013 is not know, adding that these actions are “clumsy.” In Oajdea’s opinion it would be fair for parental leave to remain set at two years and for childcare allowances to be brought to a certain threshold across the board.
MOTHERS PROTEST OUTSIDE GOVERNMENT
Dozens of mothers lined up their prams in Victoriei Square and protested against the reduction of parental leave and of childcare allowance.
The protestors consider that the measures proposed by the government will have a negative impact on the children’s development and social inclusion, particularly in the absence of an integrated social services system geared for offering care and assistance during a child’s first three years of life (nurseries, kindergartens). They ask the government to maintain the two-year parental leave for healthy children and the three-year parental leave for children with special needs. They also want the childcare allowance to return to a level of 85 per cent of income starting next year, a level it had in May 2010. “I have no support. I can’t afford a nanny, my husband is a public sector employee, we have bank loans,” a mother stated, being quoted by Realitatea.net. “The messages issued are incoherent. Mothers are subjected to stress, we’re talking about its impact and the way in which they are about to go through the experience of childbirth and childrearing. The current legislation should remain in force because of the clear fact that this creates no savings. Budget funds are not saved. We could talk about the outlook; we are promised nurseries, we want to see them,” Alina Predescu, a protesting mother, stated.