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10 Mar 2016

Gradual increase in retirement age starting next year under consideration in Belarus

MINSK, 10 March (BelTA) - Belarus is going to consider a step-by-step increase in the retirement age starting from 1 January 2017. This matter was discussed at the meeting to discuss the development of the pension system, BelTA has learned.

The final decision will be taken after extensive discussion, Labor and Social Security Minister Marianna Shchetkina told journalists following the meeting. “I would like to emphasize that this is a proposal. This is the first discussion involving such a broad participation at the presidential level. The head of state said it is important to heed to the public opinion, the feedback from people. Only then the final decision will be taken,” the Minister said.

Marianna Shchetkina noted that the coming five years will be tough in terms of demography. A large number of people will be reaching the retirement age, with very few reaching the working age. According to her, in 2001 the ratio of pensions to wages was 45%. In 2015 it was already 41.7%. “In terms of the national security we cannot allow this ratio fall below 40%,” the Minister said.

The demographic processes observed in the world are also typical of Belarus. The retirement age is increased in all European countries. Retirement age at 55 for women and 60 for men in the post-Soviet space remains in place only in Belarus, Russia and Uzbekistan. “But the average pension should be increasing, and for this purpose it is necessary to maintain the ratio between able-bodied and disabled citizens,” said Marianna Shchetkina.

Belarus operates a three-tier pension system. There is payment of early retirement benefits, occupational pension insurance. Many states cancelled them. The meeting aslo attached a lot of attention to the development of voluntary pension insurance. “We talked about the development of financial insurance companies, the opportunity for enterprises and people to take decisions on supplementary pensions. We have this system but it need to be further developed. There should be more attractive conditions,” said Marianne Shchetkina.

“Can we do without raising the retirement age? Honestly, we cannot. The goal of every state is to guarantee retirement benefits, the timeliness and completeness of their payment. Furthermore, the size of pensions should not be reduced. It should be increased or at least be maintained in relation to the average wage,” the minister noted.

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