Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mane Tandilian on Thursday withdrew her resignation which she tendered last week in protest against the Armenian government’s decision to complete a controversial pension reform.
Tandilian announced her decision after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian pledged to consider amending a new pension system that will become mandatory on July 1 for all Armenians born after 1973.
Tandilian was one of the organizers of street protests in 2014 against the reform requiring those citizens to finance a large part of their future pensions through additional tax payments. The protests forced Armenia’s former government to make the new system, recommended by Western donors, optional for private sector employees until July 2018.
Shortly after Pashinian appointed her as minister last month, Tandilian proposed that this deadline be extended by one more year. The new government turned down the proposal, sticking to its predecessor’s plans. The only concession it made was to get the Armenian parliament to temporarily cut the new pension tax rate from 5 percent to 2.5 percent.
Tandilian cited the government’s stance when she stepped down on June 12.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Pashinian said that he did not accept the resignation. He said he and the minister have agreed to work together on “making that system more acceptable.”
“We need to dispel all doubts existing in the society and among ourselves in order to be sure that we are on the right track,” the premier told cabinet members. The new, partly privatized mechanism for retirement benefits needs a “very serious improvement,” he said without elaborating.
Shortly after the cabinet meeting, Tandilian wrote on her Facebook page that she will not resign after all. She said her ministry will draft amendments to Armenian pension legislation within the next two weeks. She expressed hope that they will be adopted by the parliament later this year.
The parliament, meanwhile, voted on Thursday to pass in the second and final reading a government bill that prompted the minister’s resignation letter.