Dozens of judges and hundreds of prosecutors have obtained higher pensions in recent years after they filed lawsuits against the National Social Insurance House. Anatolie Țurcan, a magistrate at the Supreme Court of Justice, complained to the court that his pension is only about 600 euros (for reference, the average pension is up to 200 euros). He referred to an article in the Law on the Judges’ Status, which provides that the pension represents 80 percent of the amount of the judge’s salary. In the middle of May, his colleagues from the Supreme Court of Justice ruled in judge Țurcan’s favor and forced the National Social Insurance House to double his pension.
The magistrate motivates the appeal against the National Social Insurance House by the fact that he was the last judge from the Supreme Court of Justice whose pension has not been recalculated. However, experts in social policies argue that such practices create socio-economic inequalities between several categories of people.
In January 2020, the retired magistrate Anatolie Țurcan, who continues to work as a judge at the Supreme Court of Justice, sued the National Social Insurance House. He was dissatisfied with the fact that the institution repeatedly refused to recalculate and pay him a pension in the amount of 80 percent in relation to the general increase of his judge salary starting with 2015 and until the change of the average salary in the economy. The magistrate complained that he receives a pension of only 600 euros and invoked, in his request, a series of legislative provisions regarding the public pension system and the judge’s status, which entitles him to a higher pension.
In mid-July 2020, the Chișinău Court ruled in the judge’s favor and ordered the National Social Insurance House to recalculate his pension from the salary he receives at the Supreme Court of Justice, amounting to 1,500 euros per month. Subsequently, a panel of judges from the Chișinău Court of Appeal, led by Anatolie Minciună, who claimed an increase of his own pension, upheld the decision of the first instance. On May 19, Țurcan’s colleagues from the Supreme Court of Justice rejected the appeal of the National Social Insurance House.
“When everyone applies, why shouldn’t I?”
With a won case in all courts, Anatolie Țurcan will receive a pension of about 1200 euros. In total, the judge will receive from the state over 2,700 euros per month as pension and salary together. In a comment provided for ZdG, the magistrate said that he is the last of his colleagues from the Supreme Court of Justice who requested the pension recalculation. He considers that with the taxes, he will only receive around 2,400 euros per month.
“I went to court as the other judges did. I was the last judge from the Supreme Court of Justice to appeal to the court. When everyone requests it, why shouldn’t I?” commented Judge Anatolie Țurcan.
According to the financial disclosure from 2020, Țurcan received a salary of about 16,300 euros and a pension of almost 7,500 euros, and a sickness allowance of about 11,600 euros. The judge also declared a house, located in the suburbs of Chișinău, purchased in 2004 at a price of 69,800 euros, and a 2006 Suzuki car, purchased in 2013 for 3,200 euros.
Career and kinship with judges in the system
Anatolie Țurcan was appointed judge at the Supreme Court of Justice in 2016 before he turned 65. Previously, he worked as a judge at the Chișinău Court of Appeal, and at the Râșcani and Ocnița Courts in northern Moldova. The magistrate was part of the Judicial Panel of the Supreme Court of Justice, together with Vladimir Timofti and Nadejda Toma, who put an end to the criminal case of the controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon. The three magistrates declared unfounded the appeal filed by Platon’s lawyer against the decision of the Chișinău Court of Appeal, which upheld the sentence of 18 years in prison.
Previously, Anatolie Țurcan was a member of the Superior Council of Magistrates for eight years, during two consecutive terms. Țurcan was promoted to the Supreme Court of Justice by his colleagues from the Chișinău Court of Appeal. Together with him, other judges targeted in several journalistic investigations were promoted. For example, Mariana Pitic was promoted to the position of judge and Mihai Poalelungi as president at the Supreme Court of Justice. Țurcan agreed on starting the criminal investigation regarding Domnica Manole, ex-judge of the Chișinău Court and current president of the Constitutional Court.
Anatolie Țurcan has family ties with two judges from the Chișinău Court, Iurie Potângă and Veaceslav Martînenco.
Social Policy Expert: “This is an inequality that you will never face in developed countries”
Mariana Iațco, a social policy expert at the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives Viitorul, claims that the practice by which certain categories of people end up increasing their income through a revised pension creates socio-economic inequalities between several social classes.
“Due to the fact that certain categories of employees in the public sector benefit from pensions of thousands of euros, at least two categories of citizens suffer from socioeconomic inequalities. We have employees in both the public and private sectors whose salaries are lower than the pensions of some retirees. The second moment of inequality concerns those who have worked all their lives, paid taxes and contributions to the state, but who, compared to others, receive an average pension. Unfortunately, there is a category of people who are better informed and use knowledge in the field to improve their income on account of the pension received. It is an inequality that you will not face in developed countries,” commented Mariana Iațco.
The situation of ordinary pensioners
According to the National Social Insurance House, at the beginning of April about 680,400 people received a pension in Moldova. About 520,100 persons receive an average old-age pension of 99 euros per month, and 117,200 persons receive disability pensions, amounting to 70 euros.
In 2018, the Law on the Public Pension System was amended to allow the recalculation of pensions for those who worked after retirement. Through a series of amendments to this law, approved in December 2019, the start of the pension recalculation for the category of pensioners who worked at least 10 years was postponed until July 1, 2020. From that date, in full COVID-19 pandemics, huge queues of retirees formed at the National Social Insurance House offices, who had to wait for hours to submit documents for recalculation.
More than 22,500 people benefited from the recalculation of the old-age pension in 2020. The average pension after re-examination is 250 euros, compared to 130 euros before re-check.