The National Assembly gave the green light over the weekend to the relaunch of a controversial reform of the national pension system that has been initiated by the Armenian government.
Amid opposition allegations of foul play pro-government lawmakers narrowly passed a bill which is supposed to address last April’s Constitutional Court ruling that declared the reform unconstitutional.
The government essentially changed the name of additional social security contributions that will have to be made by workers born after 1973. It also allowed Armenians working for private entities to opt out of the retirement plan until July 2017.
The reform will be mandatory for 65,000 or so public sector employees starting from next month. Despite generally earning less than those employed in the private sector, few of them have participated in demonstrations that have been held in recent months by the Dem Em movement campaigning against the measure.
The parliament dominated by government loyalists promptly approved the bill in three readings on Saturday after repeatedly failing to make a quorum because of an opposition boycott. Opposition leaders were quick to allege serious procedural violations and declare the parliament vote null and void.
“We condemn this work style of the political majority and declare that we will continue to resolutely fight, together with the public, for a full implementation of the Constitutional Court ruling,” Naira Zohrabian, a minority leader, said, reading out a joint statement released by four opposition parties.
“They will reap what they sown,” warned Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of one of those parties, the Armenian National Congress.
Aghvan Vartanian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, said the four parties will consider challenging the passage of the pension bill at the Constitutional Court.