Friday, November 26, 2010

AP: Romanian pres: Adopt new laws to secure bailout

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

Romania's president urged parliament Thursday to quickly enact new wage laws, saying Romanians should ignore the lies of "girls with lipstick on and eyes as big as onions" who whip up sentiment against austerity measures.

One of the laws would reform public sector wages. Another would increase public sector wages by 15 percent and raise the minimum wage from 600 lei (euro139) to 670 lei (euro156) per month, beginning in January. They must be passed for Romania to receive the next installment of a euro20 billion ($26.67 billion) loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and World Bank last year, when the country's economy shrank by 7.1 percent.

"Be responsible!" President Traian Basescu urged lawmakers. "Next year may be too late."

Last summer, the government implemented harsh austerity measures, slashing public sector wages by one-fourth and increasing the sales tax from 19 to 24 percent, triggering a series of protests.

Basescu said Romanians "are lied to every day" and appeared to blame TV broadcasters, referring to "girls with lipstick on and eyes as big as onions" who criticize the budget cuts.

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