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Romania tightens welfare rules

Feb. 1, 2012 at 4:32 PM

BUCHAREST, Romania, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- New standards for public benefits in Romania, including strict limits on property ownership, are aimed at the Roma, Gypsy King Florin Cioaba said.

Cioaba said the new rules are "simply draconian," the Romanian Times reported. He said they would disqualify thousands of poor people, many of them Roma or gypsies.

"It is inadmissible that a poor person doesn't receive social benefits if one has a 9-year old motor or over 25 chickens, which help him survive," Cioaba said.

The new regulations disqualify those who own art objects or more than a couple of ounces of gold or precious stones. Benefits recipients must also be taxpayers.

The Labor Ministry said the goal of the changes is to reduce fraud. Officials point to statistics that show that almost 8 million people in a country of less than 20 million are receiving benefits, while only 5.2 million are employed.

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