The Armenian government is determined to finalize the pension reform that has raised concerns among mostly young citizens unhappy with the prospect of paying more for their retirement plans.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a business innovation forum in the resort town of Dilijan on Friday, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian emphasized that the law had passed all stages before being adopted by the National Assembly and that the government would not interfere with its implementation.
The forum was organized by the Union of Information Technology (IT) Enterprises. Hundreds of mostly young Armenians, including well-paid IT professionals, have staged protests in Yerevan in recent weeks demanding that the law under which they will have to pay five percent of their salaries to private pension funds in addition to social security taxes paid by their employers be scrapped or that at least its enforcement be delayed.
The measure is due to take effect on January 1 and is compulsory for all citizens born after 1973. It is part of Armenia’s ongoing transition to a new pension system whereby the amount of retirement benefit will depend in the future on workers’ lifelong financial contributions. The government says the existing pay-as-you-go system is not sustainable.
Most opposition parties in Armenia, however, oppose the enforcement of the legislation. Their move to hold a special session of parliament on the matter of pension reforms earlier this months, however, was blocked by the ruling Republican Party.
Responding to a journalist’s observation that many well-paid young professionals threaten to emigrate from the country because of this law, Prime Minister Sarkisian said: “We carefully consider all threats to the Republic of Armenia at every government session to see how real they are, what their share is, what the real problems are, and, naturally, we address all these threats.”
“Our position has been elaborated in the course of 10 years. The best specialists have been engaged, there have been numerous debates, discussions, the best experts of the world came to Armenia to examine our program and gave their conclusions, held lecturers, including at universities, we listened to what our opponents said, took their opinions into account, as a result adopted was a concept that was confirmed by the National Assembly in the form of laws,” Sarkisian added.
The head of the government said that while they respect the opinion of the people who oppose the system, they will still have to go ahead in accordance with the requirements of the law. “We are determined to take the reform to its logical conclusion,” Sarkisian stressed.