BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's government will challenge the double-digit public sector wage increases approved by parliament on Monday because they are against the law, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos said.
Lawmakers approved hikes for state workers in education and healthcare, the latest in a series of spending measures ahead of a Dec. 11 parliament election that would put the 2017 budget deficit significantly over the European Union's 3 percent of GDP ceiling.
The government of technocrats, which has fragile support in parliament, estimated that Monday's hikes and other approved bonuses would raise the public sector wage bill by 4.85 billion lei ($1.19 billion).
Under Romanian legislation, wage and pension rises cannot be approved six months before elections, nor can any measure that raises spending pass without clarifying its funding sources.
"These changes, made in a hurry and without an impact assessment, must be verified by the Constitutional Court," Ciolos told reporters.
"The way the changes were drafted ... recreates and in some cases deepens wage inequality," said Ciolos. He has been put forward by the centrist Liberals to continue as prime minister if their group wins the general election.
His cabinet has repeatedly stressed the need for a new public sector wage bill that addresses imbalances, such as similar staff earning vastly different pay.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Tom Heneghan)