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30.06.2010

Russian govt has no plans to raise retirement age

The Russian government has no plans to raise the retirement age in the near future, Minister of Health and Social Development Tatyana Golikova said.

“The government is not discussing anything like this and has not made any decisions,” she said on Monday.

At the same time, she did not rule out that this issue could begin to be discussed after 2015-2020.

“If many more than ten million (currently working pensioners) will be engaged in labour activities at that time, then the question of raising the retirement age can be raised,” Golikova said.

Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich said the country might increase the retirement age in several years.

“It is impossible to increase the retirement age as long as the lifespan is unchanged. It is premature to discuss the possible time of enlargement of the retirement age. Such decisions cannot be made unless they gain support of the majority of citizens,” he said.

The share of working pensioners is essential for the enlargement of the retirement age, Dvorkovich said. “We can do that if the majority of pensioners continue to work,” he said, noting that only a third of pensioners had been working before the crisis.

He does not think that the Pension Fund deficit will have to be covered with larger taxes. “Probably, pensions will grow more slowly than they do now, but we do not expect a further rise of the Pension Fund deficit. I think it will stabilise,” he said.

However, Pension Fund head Anton Drozdov said it would be inexpedient to increase the retirement age in Russia.

That would save 70 billion roubles in budget funds from 2012 but the effect would be the opposite starting from 2020, he said.

Earlier, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov spoke strongly against attempts to raise the retirement age in Russia now, and parliamentarians would not allow any such laws to be debated.

His statement came as a response to the Finance Ministry's proposal to raise the retirement age by five years for men and by seven to ten years for women.

“I think it's unacceptable,” Gryzlov said.

“If we achieve the goals set forth in the Strategy 2020, and by improving the quality of life reach a bigger life expectancy of over 70 years by 2020, then we may discuss this issue somehow,” he said.

“But this simply cannot be discussed right now,” he added.

“I think the deputies will not allow a discussion of any laws that raise the retirement age,” the speaker said.

Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said the fundamental basis for that situation was the global aging of the population that provokes constant growth of budget expenditures and commitments for the pension and healthcare systems.

“Obviously, the retirement age and the [wage] replacement rate should be brought in line with the new reality. However this is very hard to do politically. The EU considered raising the retirement age, and a wave of strikes followed immediately. The financial system is a hostage of politics. Harsh actions don't work,” he said.


Source:  Itar-Tass

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