POLITICS

Gov’t files new constitutional challenge against special pensions law

This week, the week before Parliament’s recess, Premier Dacian Ciolos announced he will file at the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) a new constitutional challenge against the law that the Senate adopted last week and that will allow elected officials to benefit from special pensions.

“The problem with these special pensions is that they do not respect the principle of contributions. Special pension means you pay more than that category [of pensioners] contributed to the pensions’ budget, so someone has to bear this extra cost. We have decided to send this draft law to the Constitutional Court once again. I just signed this today,” Dacian Ciolos stated on Monday in an interview for Radio Romania Actualitati.

“They risk affecting the very consolidation of the idea of pensions and of public system,” the Premier added.

Premier Ciolos asked CCR judges to clarify whether the elements maintained within the law are constitutional.

The Government challenged this law at the CCR before too. The Government’s previous challenge invoked the unconstitutionality of introducing a special system of privileges for certain local elected officials, of the retroactive payment of special rights and of the failure to ensure funding for the newly-created indemnities. On January 20, the CCR decided that the special pensions’ law is not in line with the Constitution.

According to CCR judges, the law is unclear because it does not point out what this special pension represents – an indemnity, a salary, a pension in the real sense of the word or a gift.

On the other hand, judges were of the opinion that the law is discriminatory even toward persons who hold the same office, and that the law’s signatories did not stipulate the source of financing for these benefits.

The law was returned to Parliament in order to be set in line with the CCR ruling, but this took place only to a small extent in the Government’s opinion.

The Senate adopted last Tuesday the draft law concerning special pensions for mayors, deputy mayors, county council chairmen and county council deputy chairmen. The draft law was adopted with 101 votes in favour, 6 abstentions and 1 vote against.

Thus, local officials will receive special pensions after serving a full term in office. Special pensions will not be offered to those who are convicted, through a final executory sentence, for crimes committed while being in office. The special pension for local officials and the special pension for lawmakers cannot be cumulated. This law will come into force in January 2017 and the money for the pensions will come from local budgets. The Senate was the decisive Chamber.

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