Updated at 17:25,07-01-2021

Lukashenka issues edict increasing pension age

By Iryna Lewshyna, BelaPAN

Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed a presidential edict directing that the pension age should be gradually increased by three years – by six months a year – from 55 to 58 years for women and from 60 to 63 years for men.

According to the presidential press office, the edict is “aimed at improving employee retirement income security under changing social and demographic conditions.”

Under the edict, the pension age is to be annually increased by six months on January 1 in the next six years starting from January 1, 2017.

The edict also directs that the retirement age for military officers in the ranks of up to lieutenant colonel be annually increased by six months but by no more than a total of three years.

The government has to consider increasing the pension age because there is a shortage of funds to pay pensions, Mr. Lukashenka said in March.

“There has been no increase in money in the pension fund,” the Belarusian leader said. “This month I have had to transfer one trillion rubels from the budget to the pension fund. This should not continue. I thereby take money from the public employees and give it to the retirees. But they cannot be left without money. I do not finance certain programs, including the modernization project at your company. Instead, I give money to pensioners.”

“The pension fund is short of money, especially for raising pensions,” Mr. Lukashenka said. “The question is what we should do. Should we reduce pensions? Have you ever seen pensions being reduced? People should not be offended. That is why we cannot take this measure. Since we do not have as much money as we need to raise pensions, we have to do so [to increase the pension age].”

Mr. Lukashenka warned that the increase in the pension age should be accompanied by the creation of at least 50,000 jobs. “Otherwise, people will criticize us for extending their retirement age but giving them no work. That should not happen,” he said.

If the pension age is increased by half a year in 2017 as planned, there will be a need to create additional 18,000 jobs next year, Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakow said last week, speaking to the House of Representatives.

As many as 1,419 new enterprises were established in January-February 2016 and 4,100 new jobs were created in the country in the period, Mr. Kabyakow said, adding that some 20,000 new jobs were expected to be created in Belarus this year, and that the government had not yet started to work purposefully in this regard.

There were reportedly 2,592,100 pensioners in Belarus as of February 2016. All pensions averaged 2,815,500 rubels (about $130), or 2.3 times the Subsistence Minimum Budget for pensioners, according to the National Statistical Committee).