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25 Mar 2016

Belarus president ready to decide on pension system reform next week

MINSK, 25 March (BelTA) – The documents concerning the improvement of the Belarusian pension system should be signed next week. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko made the relevant statement during the government conference held on 25 March to discuss the improvement of the national pension system, BelTA has learned.

Alexander Lukashenko said: “Today we should come up with a solution to the problem. Just like with the utilities system we should get it over with so that the next week the head of state would sign the relevant documents after deciding on these matters.”

“As far as the stance of the general public is concerned, I follow the discussions and what people say very closely. We are measuring the society’s attitudes very accurately. I should say that today a solid majority of the nation agree with the retirement age raise. I am not saying the nation wholeheartedly likes it. Even those, who don’t like it, have finally come to understand that we have to deal with the problem sooner or later. And the time to resolve the problem is now,” noted the President.

“I am very pleased that people have agreed with me that the problem needs to be resolved today primarily because we cannot pass it on to our children. In other words, we have to resolve it today. Our children should not be forced to face the problem and suffer because of our indecisiveness,” stressed Alexander Lukashenko.

The Belarus President thanked pensioners, who were against such steps in the past but agree to them now. “After we have explained the essence of the matter and how we are going to act to people, as a matter of principle even pensioners have accepted our view although the problem seems to have no bearing on them. Because today’s situation in the society is more or less normal,” said the head of state. “Young Belarusians are great! Understanding that the reform will primarily affect them and working Belarusians, they have nevertheless calmly responded to these proposals. I am not saying they like it. But sometimes the decision is unavoidable.”

“The nation understands that today with the retirement age that we have now the number of pensioners rises too fast for the current number of working Belarusians. Working people already feel the problem with the welfare of retirees. At the same time we understand absolutely well that due to the current situation our pension fund is not getting any larger and we are forced to tap into the state budget to finance the pension fund. It won’t do. By acting like that, we drain money from medics, teachers, the military and so on. We fail to advance government programs and other ones by spending money to support pensioners. It is bad. At the same time we understand that pensions cannot be reduced. We understand as well that taxes and contributions to these social funds cannot be raised either. That solution is not acceptable either. This is why we cannot avoid making the relevant decisions,” said the head of state.

Addressing participants of the government conference, Alexander Lukashenko noted that before signing the relevant legislation, he would like the government to put forth any other proposals concerning the pension system reform, he would like to learn whether some new circumstances have emerged.

Alexander Lukashenko asked those present about efforts to create new jobs. “If we are going to change the pension system starting January 2017, the problem of new jobs will rise this way or another. The number of working Belarusians will rise a bit. They will need employment and we should be ready for it,” said the President.

The head of state reminded that the relevant decision to create new jobs had already been made. “Bear in mind it is an ironclad decision of the president! Over 50,000 jobs must be created,” stressed Alexander Lukashenko. “Otherwise, people would reproach us for delaying their retirement without giving them employment options. It cannot happen and will not happen.”

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