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February 9, 2023

Retired army staff to sue cabinet members over pension cuts

Defence Ministry claims no pensions under RON 3,000 were cut. Opposition urge the Government to observe the law and give up recalculation.

The Retired Military Staff Union (SCMD) on Thursday has filed a Prosecutor’s Office complaint against Defence Minister Gabriel Oprea, Interior Minister Traian Igas, PM Emil Boc and domestic intelligence agency head George Maior, claiming they have failed to respect legal provisions and court rulings regarding military pensions, according to Mediafax. The move came a day after it was reported that many former military members received pensions lower by up to 60 per cent. As part of a wider set of austerity measures last year, the government promoted the recalculation of retirement benefits for several categories, including former military personnel. The government, including Defence Minister Gabriel Oprea, has repeatedly insisted that military pensions of RON 3,000 and lower would not be decreased following the recalculation.

This is supported by the head of Defence Ministry’s Financial Services, Col. Maria Lupu who said there were no pension cuts for the above mentioned category. “Furthermore, even in the case of those with incomplete service, recalculation has not affected their incomes,” Lupu told Mediafax.

This is contradicted by SCMD representatives, who claim thousands of written or phone complaints have been pouring at the union headquarters from retired military personnel who did not receive their benefits in full. According to Col. Valeriu Pricina, vice-president of the union, other criminal complaints will be filed to the Prosecutor’s Office against military central leaders, who have issued military addresses as basis for a new pension recalculation. “With the exception of a several cadres who had received more money due to wrongful calculations, all the retired military staff received lower pensions, despite everything the Ministry (of Defence, e.n.) has told us,” Pricina said.

On January 7, a Cluj Court of Appeals ruled the Government Decision 735/ 2010 regarding recalculation of military pensions as unconstitutional and irrevocably suspended it.

Social-Democrat leader Victor Ponta yesterday urged the Government to immediately cease benefits’ recalculation and respect court rulings. “As leader of the most important opposition party, I urge the Basescu- Boc government to stop making a mockery of these people’s rights. We are not looking at a government’s action anymore, this is totalitarian regime, one who distinguishes itself through indolence and corruption,” Ponta told a press conference. The January court ruling has law value and it has to be respected, the PSD leader also argued, adding the “current government has absolutely no right to deny this right to pensioners.”

Ponta also reminded that, last year, Defence Minister Oprea had threatened with his resignation, if military pensions were to be recalculated. “We are facing this reality now, but I cannot expect to see a display of honour from either Mr. Oprea or any of the impostors currently ruling the country,” the PSD president concluded.

While reacting to these statements, Oprea’s party urged Ponta to resign from all positions, arguing that the PSD leader’s stand harms Romania and that he misleads retirees.

In his turn, PSD National Council head Adrian Nastase harshly criticized recalculation, stating the only legal option from the Government is to give up cutting military pensions.

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