Romania passes property restitution bill
On Tuesday, the centre-left government of Victor Ponta adopted the property restitution bill designed to help families whose land or dwellings were confiscated by the previous communist regimes.
Ponta had said recently, the property restitution bill “we have drafted aims finally to find a solution to long-delayed problem of property restitution in Romania.” According to Associated Press, more than 200,000 such claims exist, and the law passed complies with a demand by the Council of Europe to repair such historical wrongs. The people who lost their fortunes will be entitled either to reclaim them or to get government compensation.
Approximately 10,000 buildings have been returned already to former owners, but it would be very costly for the current government to settle all the outstanding claims, dating back to 1940. Former owners that cannot be compensated in kind will receive points with a nominal value of 1 lei each (€1 is 4.4 lei). The points can then be used to buy property or exchanged for money. According to the Balkan insight, the total amount will be paid within seven years of 2017. The government had estimated that it will have to pay around €9 billion to cover the obligation deriving from the property restitution bill.
Moreover, the new bill will heavily tax people who bought such property deeds in recent years at a fraction of their real value. On the contrary, the former owners or their relatives will not be taxed on their recovered assets.
Ponta commented that the property restitution bill will correct decades of injustice. Last but not least, since 1999, the European Court has awarded many former owners their properties in Romania back.