Rejected amendment to 'nationalize' Pillar 2 pension funds causes scandal in RO Govt.
A rejected amendment that would have nationalized the private Pillar 2 pension funds has caused members of the Romanian Government to point fingers.
Earlier this week, the Romanian Government unveiled and finally adopted a new fiscal package to curb the rising deficit. The package introduces a turnover tax for large companies, tougher taxation of SMEs, and the elimination of a series of fiscal allowances in key sectors. It also aims to cut spending in the public sector.
On Tuesday morning, September 26, as the ruling coalition was preparing to move forward with the package, social democratic and liberal MPs received a file containing several amendments to the project. Among the amendments was the "masked" nationalization of the second pillar pension funds. After discussions within the coalition, the amendment disappeared, and prime minister Marcel Ciolacu claimed that this topic had never been discussed, according to G4Media.
Nevertheless, liberals part of the coalition admitted that the issue had been discussed some time ago. "During the final vote session, we received a situation report on the amendments that the group leaders of the PNL and PSD were going to support. Among them was Article 7, which was a complete surprise for us, as it essentially proposed a somewhat masked nationalization of the Second Pillar of Pensions. This proposal came from PSD's secretary of state, Ms. Daniela Pescaru, and only our vigilance made us notice it," said PNL deputy Florin Roman cited by Digi24. He also stated that "the way this amendment was worded was extremely dangerous, in the sense that those who did not, in writing, choose to continue with the Second Pillar of pensions found that overnight, practically, everything they had saved was moving towards a hidden nationalization," explained the PNL deputy.
Finance minister Marcel Boloș (PNL) later admitted that the nationalization of second pillar pensions was discussed a month ago by the PSD-PNL coalition, but added that the idea was rejected. During an interview, the minister placed the blame for the amendment also on the secretary of state. “I don't believe in such an action; it's akin to madness. The net assets that belong to the people remain there in private pension funds,” Boloș said.
“I have to confess, this amendment did not follow the official path, so practically, it did not get discussed in committees," said Boloș on Antena 3. When asked if he would dismiss Daniela Pescaru, Boloș said, "I cannot dismiss her; it's the prerogative of the PM. If this was something we discussed...and I must confess that this topic was discussed about a month ago within the governing coalition and it seemed to have been addressed with a rejection of this idea, and I thought things had settled down and that we were on the right track."
The Pillar 2 pension funds amount to roughly RON 103 billion (EUR 20.7 billion), contributed by around 8.3 million people.
(Photo source: gov.ro)