March 27, 2007 / 12:31 PM / in 11 years

Pay up to prove you live

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A cashier for Romania’s state-owned railway has been asked to pay a month’s worth of wages to receive government confirmation that she is alive.

Filoftea Popescu discovered when she applied for a passport that the Romania’s People Registration Service had mistakenly declared her dead in November 2005, stripping her of all her rights as a citizen.

“I went to the police ... and I found out that I have no rights in the Romanian state because I died in 2005,” the 55-year-old Popescu was quoted on Monday by daily Evenimentul Zilei as saying.

Romania is struggling to cut through vast red tape and complicated legislation to improve a bloated and ineffective administration in order to benefit from new membership in the European Union.

“A lawyer told me it costs me 500 lei (to obtain a court order). Why should I pay to prove I am alive?” Popescu said.

The People Registration Service admitted its error and said it fired the staff responsible.

But Popescu’s family doctor is still reeling from the shock of seeing her at his office not long after receiving a copy of her death certificate from the state.

“When she came to my clinic, I lost my voice,” said Nicolae Toboiu.

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