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Romanian report Romanian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-09-20 08:52:39
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Austerity Protests Sweep Romania

Antigovernment demonstrations broke out across Romania on Wednesday as medical workers, taxi drivers and civil servants protested cuts in salaries, bonuses and jobs. Authorities fired tear gas after health workers scuffled with guards and tried to break into a hospital late on Tuesday in Braila, in the country's southeast. Workers broke an entrance door but were pushed back by security forces. About 100 nurses, cleaners and other employees protested outside the Braila hospital on Wednesday, and the health ministry sent in a team in assess the situation.

Romania, mired in recession, cut public-sector wages 25% in July and increased sales taxes to keep the budget deficit under control. The cutbacks aimed to meet conditions for a €20 billion ($26.02 billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank. Some of the money was used to pay pensions and wages as the economy contracted 7.1% last year. In addition, the health system in Romania is underfunded and understaffed, which has led to a brain drain as thousands of doctors and nurses have sought employment abroad.

In the southeast county of Vrancea, about 1,000 town workers and mayors protested on Wednesday against a government decision to cut local budgets for this year by 34 million lei ($10.4 million), claiming the measure will bankrupt small communities. In Bucharest, several hundred self-employed taxi drivers protested a government measure that requests they pay health contributions retrospectively for the past five years. Police also threatened to work less next week to protest the 25% wage cut. They said they will answer emergency calls, but won't go on patrols, conduct traffic or hand out fines.


Romania's parliament has approved changes to the national pension fund to qualify for new IMF loan

In order to qualify for a $1.2 billon IMF loan, Romania's parliament has approved changes to the national pension fund. The new legislation increases the retirement age for men and women to 65 and reduces the number of workers exempt from paying into the system. The new retirement age will take effect in 2030, with all citizens contributing to the system for at least 15 years before qualifying for a pension.
To receive the next loan installment the government must produce documents showing it has paid $567 million of its overdue debts to health-care companies before the IMF board meets Sept. 24. Romania is the EU second poorest country and is relying on a massive IMF loan to help it recover from its worst recession in history.


Those who stole money from FNA and FNI must be punished

Romanian President Traian Basescu has suggested that mass media must stop making propaganda in the service of those who had stolen money from the National Accumulation Fund (FNA) and the National Investment Fund (FNI), or who made money from oil ‘businesses,’ and who must answer now for their deeds. “Don’t try to humiliate your President, who represents you everywhere, based on no more than some lies of those who must pay for their deeds before the law, regardless whether it’s about stealing money, stealing assets, stealing land or stealing everything they could steal,’ Traian Basescu said on Thursday evening, when he arrived from Brussels, and the journalists asked him how he would comment on the charges that were brought against businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu.

The head of state said that he didn’t understand why the mass media was trying to consolidate the lie according to which he had intervened in the process of justice. “I noticed this: all those who got rich, every time when the court asks them how they did it, they say the single one to blame is the President. What I can tell you instead is that those who stole money from the FNA and the FNI, or who got rich from doing oil ‘businesses,’ have to pay before the law. Although I do not get it why the mass media tries to consolidate that lie according to which the President would have personally taking care to send these people to jail. You have to stop with that lie, and I talking especially about you, who are young, for it’s a pity you do what you do,” said the head of state. The President urged the mass media in Romania to stop making propaganda in the service of those who have to answer in front of the state institutions, adding that interventions in the process of justice belong to older times.

“You should start from the premise that you have a President who respects you and who will never tell a judge how to rule and who will never tell a prosecutor ‘take this one and put him to jail.’ These kind of things were done in the old times and this only shows how corrupted are those who are trying to lie when they are confronted with the law and it also shows how misguided you are already, even if you are so young. How do you think you can compare the President of the country, which now arrives from Brussels, where he represented your interests, based on no more than some lies, with those who must answer before the law first of all for stoling from three thousand of Romanians,’ said Traian Basescu. When he heard about businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu on Thursday having been released from the custody of the Criminal Prosecution Bureau, the President said: “I never said he should be judged in custody.”

Businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu on Thursday was released from the custody of the Criminal Prosecution Bureau, following a decision of the Bucharest Court of Appeal to let him be judged in liberty. Sorin Ovidu Vantu stated, after the prosecution appeal to the Bucharest Court of Appeal, that the file requesting for his arrest was a political one, and also that President Traian Basescu has put pressure on him to sell part of his media trust.

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