PSD President Victor Ponta was the one who started the row. Ponta took part yesterday in the joint meeting of the Lower Chamber’s health and labour commissions, a meeting in which the government ordinance on whose basis social insurance contributions were illegally collected from pensioners was discussed. The Constitutional Court decided last week that emergency government ordinance number 107/2010 is unconstitutional. The ordinance ruled that pensioners whose pensions are higher than RON 740 will have to pay 5.5 per cent in health insurance contributions starting on January 1, 2011. After the Constitutional Court took the decision, thousands of pensioners affected by the ordinance queued outside courts in order to file requests to recover their money. Ponta stated that the ordinance’s text was rejected by the Parliament’s special commissions in November, but the plenum decided to send the text back to the commissions. The commissions upheld their initial decision but the plenum sent the law back once again. The PSD President stated that Speaker of the Lower Chamber Roberta Anastase is responsible because she obeyed a political order. “It’s compulsory to give the money back and to hold the successive labor ministers and Speaker of the Lower Chamber Roberta Anastase responsible for making a mockery of the Constitution, the law and pensioners,” Ponta stated, being quoted by Romania TV.Asked in what way they could be held responsible, Ponta answered: “Keep in mind we’ve lost five months; in November these commissions wanted to solve the problem but Anastase didn’t. Responsibility? What can I say… Not even shooting them would be enough…” Ponta said he is against the pensioners asking for their rights in court, because that entails time and extra costs. He also pointed out that the labour and health ministers did not show up for the hearings within the commissions yesterday because they are probably clearing up their desks ahead of Friday’s vote on the no-confidence motion. Although they lacked the needed quorum, the Parliamentary commissions unanimously approved a report on emergency government ordinance number 107/2010, pointing out that the money that have to be paid back are those collected since the ordinance’s date of adoption, not those collected since the Constitutional Court issued its decision on this issue. The Speaker of the Lower Chamber replied to the Social-Democrat leader using the same tone, pointing out that she previously warned “about this character’s psychiatric problems.” “The limit was crossed a long time ago. Today, lacking solutions, Victor Ponta threatens politicians with death. Tomorrow, lacking votes, he will threaten with death the Romanians that don’t and can’t believe in him,” Anastase stated. She criticized both PSD MP Adrian Solomon, who allegedly recently threatened the Prime Minister with death, as well as PSD MP Olguta Vasilescu who, according to the PDL leader, threatened politicians with death. Anastase pointed out that Victor Ponta is not interested in the pensioners’ fate and criticized him for “importing” a Filipino nanny for his daughter “instead of hiring an unemployed Romanian woman.” “When the report on ordinance 107/2010 was discussed in Parliament Victor Ponta was probably skipping work, as we all know Victor Ponta was either in Dubai, or in Rome, or in who knows what other exotic location where he usually spends time alongside businessmen made rich by contracts with the state,” Anastase stated. She also accused Ponta of spending his holidays in very expensive places “using the pensioners’ money.” She also claimed that Ponta made “an unprecedented diplomatic faux pas” when he left Parliament yesterday while European Council President Herman van Rompuy was being offered the highest award of the Romanian Parliament.
Prime Minister’s concerns
Present in Parliament while the European Council President was giving his speech, Prime Minister Ungureanu was asked by journalists whether he is nervous in what concerns the no-confidence motion. Ungureanu answered that his nervousness rather has to do with how to apply the Constitutional Court decision “so that pensioners get back what the Court rightfully gave them,” but also with restoring public sector salaries to their previous levels. Asked whether he has decided to give the money back to pensioners, the Premier pointed out that he is currently analyzing all technical options and that the Court’s decision will be applied. He added that in his opinion pensioners should stop going to court.