Mayor ends hunger strike over cuts 29 Nov 11

(Reuters) – Romanian mayor Florin Cazacu Saturday ended a six-day hunger strike over cuts in heating subsidies after the government handed his town extra funds for fuel oil.

He said thousands of residents in Brad have shivered at home after the government scrapped a centralized heating subsidy which, Cazacu said, left the central Romanian town with a 3 million lei ($912,500) shortfall.

Winter temperatures around Brad fall as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit).

The government said Friday it would give Brad 1 million lei, which Cazacu said was a beginning but not enough.

“The funds will ensure there is enough fuel oil for a period of 15 days, but let’s not forget winter is just starting,” 46-year-old Cazacu was quoted as saying by news agency Agerpres.

The government last year introduced tough austerity measures including salary cuts and a rise in value-added tax to one of the highest levels in the European Union.

Romania has promised the International Monetary Fund, which is leading a 5 billion euro aid deal, it will scrap government subsidies for centralized heating. It must also liberalize its gas and power market in stages by 2015.

Cazacu said he gave up the protest on the advice of colleagues.

“I confess that my health has deteriorated,” he said.

Thursday evening Cazacu was taken to the emergency room of Brad’s unheated hospital after complaining of feeling sick.

Cazacu said he will continue to ask the government to supply 2,500 tonnes of fuel oil from state reserves, which would ensure Brad would get heating for the entire winter season.