Romania’s Parliament has voted to scrap so-called “special pensions,” payments made to judges and prosecutors and retired diplomats and pilots and others and that aren’t based on tax contributions.
Lawmakers voted 247 votes for the bill in a special session on Tuesday. There were 21 abstentions.
The pensions, which range from about 1,000 euros to several thousand euros a month, have become a contentious issue with critics challenging them, on the grounds they are discriminatory and cost the state too much.
The pensions are paid from the state budget cost more than 9 billion lei last year, according to the National Public Pensions House.
Military officers, intelligence agents, some law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges, diplomats, former lawmakers, pilots, court officials are among the 187,480 people receiving the augmented pensions.
Of those, 178,168 were from the military sector_ interior ministry and intelligence officers. They will continue to receive their pensions, while 3,800 retired prosecutors and judges will no longer benefit from them.
Despite the vote, the measure could be struck down by the Constitutional Court which has already ruled that it is unconstitutional to remove magistrates’ special pensions.
For this reason, some politicians including members of the opposition Social Democratic Party and Pro-Romania Party favored taxing rather than scrapping the pensions.
The bill angered court clerks staged a strike on Monday and Tuesday over the bill. The Association of Court Clerks said representatives would meet Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Tuesday to discuss their grievances.
The Liberal minority government would allow exceptions for former employees of the interior ministry and intelligence agencies which are paid by the instititutes
Romania has about 5 million retirees and the average monthly pension is 1,220 lei (about 255 euros).