Romania pensioners in the streets against austerity cuts

Thousands of Romanian pensioners rallied Wednesday in Bucharest and other cities against the government’s planned austerity measures, local media reported.

In the capital city, a thousand elderly people staged a rally in front of the presidential palace, calling on President Traian Basescu to resign.

They were protesting a planned 15-percent cut in their pensions, part of an austerity drive that also includes a 25-percent slash in civil servants’ wages.

The average monthly pension is currently around 190 euros and the monthly wage around 350 euros.

Three of the protesters needed medical assistance after scuffles with the police, Mediafax news agency reported.

Hundreds more took to the streets in other large cities such as Iasi, Ploiesti and Galati, chanting “Resign” and “You’ll bury us alive.”

Romanian authorities last week-end reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a 6.8 percent public deficit, up form a previous target of 5.9 percent.

The IMF however said it would only unblock a new disbursement of its aid when the drastic cuts are in effect.

The IMF, the European Union and the World Bank last year concluded a 20-billion-euro bailout deal with Romania in exchange for measures to slash public spending.

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