Pensioners deserve respect and support

The Draft Law On Amendments and Additions to Some Laws of the Republic of Belarus Concerning Pensions is set to increase pensions
It looks as if Belarus′ 2.5 million pensioners have "golden" times ahead of them. Pension security is a very sensitive subject; as we get older, we become vulnerable to misfortune and rely on the state to help us. Reforms may not be perfect the first time they are implemented and, sometimes, results are only appreciable much later.

There are several legislative acts regulating pension insurance in Belarus at present. Many were adopted some time ago (eg. the basic law On Pension Insurance dates from 1992). However, the number of pensioners is increasing (the index has risen from 46 to 60 percent over the past 15 years); this is a burden on the budget. The new draft law provides for a number of improvements in the existing pension system. President has notified Government members (the "social block" in the country′s administration) in advance that they need to provide convincing proof that alterations in pension legislation are necessary. "I will never agree to worsen pensioners" living conditions," he said; he has shown his support of any measures aimed at raising their well-being. President decided to support an unscheduled rise in pensions in September 2005. Economic growth and rising wages have brought about a rise in contributions to the treasury; this enables the pension fund to be increased also. Pensions are, therefore, rising and are paid on time. Currently approximately $3bn is allocated for this purpose. "This is a huge amount," says Mr. Lukashenko.

Pensions in Belarus are not considered high but are 75 percent higher than those in Russia (compared with average wages). According to the President, average monthly pensions are 35 percent higher than the minimum living wage in Belarus and make 42 percent of an average wage. "No other CIS state or former socialist country looks after pensioners′ welfare like this," the President emphasised. He has called pensioners "the conscience and support of the nation". The government has a duty to ensure a good standard of living for them. The President has made pensioners and children his priorities in social policy. The new pension system is thus of great importance. The Draft Law will be brought to Parliament at the next autumn session.

Igor Kolchenko
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