POLITICS

Constitutional Court: Law on special pensions for local officials is unconstitutional

The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) ruled on Wednesday that the provisions on the special pensions of local officials are unconstitutional after upholding the Government’s notification.

The decision was unanimous. The judges found that the law lacks clarity and that there is inequality among its beneficiaries and further that the text of the law does not specify the source of funding.

At the end of the latest Parliament session, the majority represented by PSD-UNPR-ALDE voted for the special pensions law for local officials, shortly after the members of the Parliament increased their own pensions.

PNL announced it opposed both legal initiatives and, during the vote for the pensions of local officials, they left the plenum hall hoping to block the law this way. Nonetheless, the political party did not appeal this law at CCR.

On December 26, 2015, the Government notified CCR on several aspects of the Law to amend and supplement Law No. 393/2004 on the status of local elected officials – on special pensions for mayors, deputy mayors, presidents and vice-presidents of County Councils.

The notification regarded the breach of several articles of the Constitution referring to the setup of a special regime of privileges for certain local elected representatives, the retroactive granting of special rights and failure to provide financing for the newly-created allowances.

“In the adopted form, there are at least 16,300 possible beneficiaries of the law. The budget effort in 2016 amounts to 469 million lei. (…) The resulting budget deficit stands at 395 million lei, above the deficit approved by Parliament, and tends to worsen the stability of the fiscal budget framework. Moreover, given that the law has retroactive provisions, the number of beneficiaries can be much higher, as well as the impact on the state budget,” a document presenting the Government’s stance reads.


PSD does not give up on this law

PSD Deputy Florin Iordache, Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies, declared on Wednesday at Realitatea TV, after the CCR announcement was made, that thez would not give up on this law and that they would change it in order to remove the unconstitutional elements.

“As long as Mayors, Presidents of County Councils and Vice-Presidents are completing their term and are prohibited to do certain activities, they are entitled to a compensation – I call it special pension. It is a right local officials have and we will present the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies a draft law that would be constitutional”, Iordache declared.
The Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies blamed the Senators because the law became unconstitutional, claiming that “it was changed in the Senate”. He also declared that the changes could be made in two months, but he was waiting for the report by CCR.
According to stiripesurse.ro, Iordache also declared that it was most likely that this law would also be on the agenda of the Social-Democrat management meeting of next week, in Sinaia, among discussions concerning legal priorities of the party in the new Parliament session.


PNL: We respect the decision reached by CCR

PNL respects the decision adopted by Romania’s Constitutional Court (CCR) in case of the law concerning special pensions for local employees, Liberal Prime-Vice-President Ludovic Orban declared on Wednesday, pointing out that stipulations declared unconstitutional would be eliminated by the Parliament.

“We have voted against (in the Parliament, editor’s note) and we have also pointed out that the law was unconstitutional.
Obviously, we respect the decision by CCR that this law was declared unconstitutional. The law will be once again discussed by the Parliament, and the unconstitutional stipulations would be removed”, Ludovic Orban declared on Wednesday for Agerpres.
He outlined that he did not support the idea of special pensions, except for those for militaries.

“I do not support the idea of special pensions, except for those for militaries. The principle that should determine the calculation of pensions is that of contributing, that needs to be a rule for anyone retiring, due to the equality of rights. It is not normal that people whose pensions are calculated based on contribution rank would have a rate of recovery of their salary through their pension by 45 – 46 per cent and other categories would benefit of an 80% rate reported to their income”, the Liberal declared.

Orban added that he was firmly against special pensions for high officials. “They should have a decent allowance granting them a living and making them immune to temptations of corruption”, he explained.

PNL Co-chair Alina Gorghiu also commented on Wednesday the decision by which CCR declared the special pensions law for local officials was unconstitutional.

“It is a decision I had anticipated. At the level of the Parliament, PNL has kept repeating that it had no way to justify constitutionally a privilege. I am confident that this precedent may be highly positive and beneficial and it would be interesting to see how it would be motivated, as PSD has submitted in Parliament seven or eight more initiatives especially for various categories in Romania. I would love us to end populism and the idea of privilege in Romania. We are looking forward to see what PSD does, as it seems to have a greed for pensions that is scary for an electoral year”, Gorghiu declared for B1TV.

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