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Great retirement of generals: Heads of militarized institutions flock to get big pensions

de Mariana Bechir 7.8.2017

Twenty-eight generals, rear-admirals and police quaestors, including 13 SRI generals, have got themselves put in reserve over the past two days (Monday and Tuesday) after the Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu has confirmed the amendment of the legislation on military pensions.

Only on Monday, ten SRI generals have been put in reserve.

In total, President Klaus Iohannis has signed this year the retirement decrees for 40 generals, rear-admirals or police quaestors.

According to sources of cursdeguvernare.ro, all the heads (who have the necessary seniority) of the Romanian Gendarmerie, the Border Police and the Police of Bucharest are also filing their retirement applications.

Besides the heads of the military institutions, several lower-level enrolled persons that meet all retirement conditions are also decided to leave the structures. At the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI), for example, Minister Carmen Dan announced that approximately 700 retirement files have been filed in the last 72 hours.

For the time being, according to the official data, the spectacular growth is not reflected in the statistics of ministries, with the upheaval to be felt in the following days:

  • In the first half of last year, 900 retirement cases have been approved at the MApN, compared to 850 this year (the total number of pensioners is 78,932)
  • Between January and June 2016, 5,363 pension applications have been submitted to the MAI compared to 1,821 applications in the same period of this year (the total number of pensioners is 62,698)

Romania already has a battalion of retired generals

Last year, 779 pensioners holding the rank of general from MApN and other institutions within the National System of Defence, Public Order and National Security have been registered in the records of the sectoral pension house of the MApN.

They are joined this year by the 40 generals, rear admirals and retired questors and, of course, those who are going to retire in the next few weeks.

According to the military standards, the 800+ retired generals can form a battalion, in number.

Caste of young luxury pensioners who are quickly re-employed and return to labour market

For the “lucky ones” among the retired people, things will get perfectly arranged, as it happened following the redundancies in the early 2000s when some of those fired with compensatory salaries returned to the MApN.

Such “well-connected” people, who have gone through the stages of exit and automatic return, have already emerged, at least at the MAI, where some 30 central-level officers re-embarked on well-paid jobs shortly after retirement.

Examples:

  • Cornel Ciocoiu Gabriel (45 y.o.), State Secretary
  • Alina Popescu (not yet 45 y.o.), adviser of Minister Carmen Dan
  • Catalin Breazu – former deputy general manager of MAI, General Directorate of Human Resource Management, retired last year, but soon returned to MAI, as an adviser in the Cabinet of the Secretary of State.

Pensioners who quickly return to the system have this opportunity they have been offered in 2014 when PSD and ALDE lifted the ban on the pension-wage combination.

Law that caused generals to flock for retirement

The top-level retirements announced now follow the confirmation given by authorities on the change in the way the special pensions are calculated, as of September 15.

The main change will specify that special pensions or allowances may not exceed the salary/military wage for those who are still active. This is often the case now, because of the calculation base (which also includes increases in some cases) and the percentage reported for calculating the pension.

Also, as of September 15, special pensions will no longer be indexed by 50% of the increase of the average salary/military wage but only by the annual average inflation.

Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu says the changes will be applied to all beneficiaries of special pensions, not just to the military personnel. That means magistrates and lawmakers are included (who are beneficiaries of allowances increased annually based on the same calculation).

This method of calculation will only be maintained for the ordinary pensioners in the public system (it is also applied for them, and this is the base for the increase of the pension point, but it did not apply for them based on what the pension budget allowed).

Many of those who are now in the system prefer to retire at a very young age, even at the age of 40.

This is because, as the present legislation shows, you can get a pension equal to 120% of the salary, then update that pension according to the wage increases of those who are active. A person starts from 85% of the gross salary, plus bonuses and this way gets a pension higher than the net salary,” the Labour Minister said, referring to the military pensions.

Pension- wage cumulation, reintroduced in 2014, by the Ponta-Dragnea-Tariceanu trio

The situation of the reintroduction of the combination between huge wages and pensions compared to the average of the pensioners from the public system (whether they were former employees in the public or private sectors), was made possible by PSD and its allies.

In 2009, to reduce the budget expenditures, Emil Boc banned the cumulation of the pension with the salary, if the salary exceeded the national average level, for the employees of the public system.

The crisis has passed and, in 2014, the Parliament voted to abolish this ban, which has led to the emergence of the above situations.

It was a PSD initiative, and the current Prime Minister Mihai Tudose was among those who signed, the same person who finds out today the budgetary effects this initiative produced.

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