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October 23, 2020

MPs postpone vote on special pensions’ law

The Lower Chamber and the Senate held a joint meeting on Wednesday, at 2.30 p.m., the order of the day including the report on President Iohannis’s request to re-examine the law on special pensions for lawmakers.
The re-examination request was however sent back to the special statute commission, which has to present its report next week. The postponement was approved with 372 votes in favour and 4 against. The final vote will take place next Wednesday, September 16, when the two Chambers will hold a plenum meeting that will also feature President Iohannis’s speech in Parliament.
PSD Interim President Liviu Dragnea stated on Tuesday, after the ruling coalition’s meeting, that the law on special pensions for lawmakers will be sent back to the statute commission.
The Social-Democrat leader stated that the law “has to have a form very close to the model from the European Parliament.”
“We want it to reach a form that would be politically agreed and we want our PNL colleagues to participate too,” Dragnea said.
“I don’t think it is fair for an MP to be able to receive a pension rebate if he has a term of only six months,” the PSD President argued, stating that a lawmaker has to complete at least one term in office in order to receive the special pension.
On the other hand, PSD Lower Chamber lawmaker Bogdan Niculescu Duvaz announced on Tuesday that the statute commission only modified some stipulations included in the law, as a result of the President’s re-examination request, establishing that the MPs will collect their pensions from the moment they obtain retirement decisions within the public pensions’ system, but the pensions’ level has remained the same.
The statute commission modified on Tuesday only some stipulations concerning the special pensions for lawmakers, deciding that the MPs will collect their pensions from the moment they obtain retirement decisions from the public pensions’ system, but the pensions’ level has remained unchanged. Moreover, the lawmakers that received final court sentences for incompatibility will benefit from special pensions. The stipulations concerning the level of the special pensions remained unchanged – 0.55 per cent of a lawmaker’s indemnity – and the special pension can be collected by lawmakers that had terms ranging from 6 consecutive months to 3 terms.
The members of the commission decided that the lawmakers that were convicted for corruption while being MPs will not benefit from the special pensions. However, the Chairman of the Commission pointed out that those convicted for incompatibility will be able to benefit from special pensions because their cases concern “administrative situations, not corruption.”
In July, President Klaus Iohannis sent back to Parliament, for re-examination, the law concerning the special pensions for lawmakers.
According to the Presidency, the need for re-examination “is justified on one hand by the excessive and arbitrary character of the new indemnity from which lawmakers would benefit and, on the other hand, by the fact that this right would be offered to all MPs that committed acts of corruption as defined by the old Penal Code, as well as to those whose terms were terminated because of incompatibility.”

Alina Gorghiu: PNL to vote against special pensions for MPs

National Liberal Party (PNL) Co-President Alina Gorghiu said on Wednesday that the Liberals will vote against the law concerning special pensions for lawmakers, pointing out that a committee’s report on this piece of legislation includes not only the amendments asked by President Klaus Iohannis, but also the upholding of privileges.
“PNL’s viewpoint regarding the lawmakers’ pensions is crystal clear: we will vote against these special pensions for MPs because our party has always voted against the idea of privilege and because we do not support arbitrary criteria for setting the MPs’ pensions, criteria that have nothing to do with the contribution principle. (…) In fact, a report that not only contains amendments brought in the re-examination request, but that also provides the committee’s viewpoint on the law as a whole, on the entire case, on the entire regulation, is going to be voted today. We are in fact talking about the idea of special pensions for MPs. We will vote against this project,” Alina Gorghiu told a press conference.
She repeatedly stressed that the Liberals will vote against the special pensions, deeming the law to be “inopportune.”
“It is not a report exclusively on re-examination. (…) The re-examination request aimed at certain provisions, on the other hand the substance of the problem remains unchanged by the Social Democrat Party (PSD, main ruling party- editor’s note), namely the idea of special pensions is the one we are challenging. The re-examination request passed through the committee and those articles were more or less altered. Our problem is that the entire law, including those amendments on articles proposed by the Presidency for re-examination, is inopportune,” the PNL Co-President stated.
Gorghiu specified that the Liberals will analyse whether this law could be attacked at the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR); she added that, however, this step would be premature right now.
She also mentioned that “unfortunately, the PSD [ruling Social Democrat Party] votes are more than enough for this law to pass.”

UDMR opposes the law too

UDMR President Kelemen Hunor stated on Wednesday that he has advised his party colleagues not to vote in favour of the special pensions’ law, adding that he will personally vote against it too. “My recommendation for my colleagues this morning was for them not to vote in favour of the law, but I am sure there will be some who will vote in favour of the President’s re-examination request. (…) I will personally vote against it,” Hunor stated for Mediafax.
Kelemen Hunor explained that UDMR groups have no qualified majority in favour of either stance, and as a result no mandatory behaviour can be imposed. “This would mean two thirds and everyone would have to vote for or against,” Hunor stated, adding that at this moment “we are in a fairly difficult situation. If we reject it entirely, the law voted during the summer will remain. If we accept the President’s request, then those changes made within the parliamentary commission indeed mean a correction toward a gentler solution but do not solve the issue in its entirety.”

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