In one of the largest mass protests since the fall of communism, around 50,000 Romanians took to the streets of Bucharest on Wednesday.
They are furious at drastic cuts to state wages and pensions proposed by the government to reduce the country’s ballooning budget deficit.
“I am a pensioner after 40 years of working and they want to cut 15 per cent of our pensions. How will we live from now on?” asked one angry woman.
Protesters say they should not have to pay for the government’s corruption. But the government says its hands are tied.
Romania is deep in recession and has already received one instalment of an IMF loan package in order to be able to pay wages.
“It was the government’s decision to move ahead with concentrating more on the expenditure cut side,“ said Jeffrey Franks, IMF mission chief for Romania. “They feel that expenditures have gotten out of control in recent years and the best way to attack their budget problem is to concentrate on the expenditure side. This was their decision.”
The government says it has to make savings or it will not receive the much-needed second instalment of the IMF bailout. But pensioners in Romania feel the state has gambled away their living, leaving them fearful for the future.