19 January 2018, Friday, 2:35

Aliaksandr Sasnou: Lukashenka Sees Pensioners As ‘Social Parasites’


Ex-Minister of Labour is outraged about the authorities’ newest initiative.

On January 1, 2018 the retirement age was raised once again in Belarus. It makes 56 years old for women (it was 55 before the reform), and 61 years old for men (against the earlier 60). In comparison with the last year, Belarusians now retire half a year later.

The reform will end in 2022, when the retirement age will be 58 for women, and 63 for men.

At the same time, on October 1, 2017, a law came into force in Poland, which provides for the reduction of the retirement age. The two neighboring countries, which almost simultaneously escaped from the communist trap, somehow have such significant differences in the social sphere.

The Charter97.org addressed to former Minister of Labour of Belarus Aliaksandr Sasnou for a comment on yet another rise of the retirement age:

— Our pension system started giving the SOS signal 20 years ago. Then it was necessary to start serious reforms. But the officials idled about and only now, when the pension fund ceased to be replenished properly, they came up with the most simple and primitive steps. As always. We need a fundamental reform of the pension system, such as was done in the Baltic countries. And this decision to raise the retirement age came at the wrong time, at the wrong place.

To make effective decisions, you need feedback from people, to understand what is happening in the country. And our government seems far from the reality. Just the statement of the famous person that “at 60, a man is a horse on which you can still plow” says a lot. I do not know such people, maybe there are such “horses” in Drazdy.

Such an approach means one thing: the authorities believe that our people have not earned this pension and are “parasites”, which are kept by workers.

— Back in Autumn, there were talks that the number of people who get the minimum retirement pension has significantly grown in Belarus. For the last 6 years, this number has increased by almost 5 times. Is it possible to survive in Belarus on Bn 224?

— It is difficult enough to live on an ordinary pension, let alone the minimum. Again, all responsibility for this situation is on the authorities. The most socially vulnerable part of the population was under a tight press. Once upon a time, the Belarusians were promised “a cup with cracklings”, but now the bar of promises has dropped to bread and water. Now, comrades, we have reached the “bright future”

— In the Social Protection Fund of Belarus, a considerable “gap” of over $ 150 mln occurred. How does it affect the general economic situation in our country? What will happen with the Belarusians’ pensions?

— Lukashenka has done everything to ensure that the most active and able-bodied Belarusians fled the country. We lost our gene pool, the most qualified personnel. Labour migration has made its effect and the pension fund has significantly dropped. Of course, when a person works abroad, they send money to the country — it somehow keeps people afloat. However, no deductions to the pension fund are made.

We would have never faced this problem if we had an accumulative system. But we are dealing with the old Soviet system, when part of the earnings of the working generation is deducted to the pension fund, from which the money goes to the purses of the older generation that retired. Of course, we are not to blame for the fact that we inherited such a system. Still, we have an example of reforms in other countries. Why our officials did not hold them on time remains an open question. And now we are witnessing the epilogue of the economic activities of the authorities.

— In Belarus, every fourth pensioner is forced to work. Why can’t the authorities find young specialists to cover these posts, and ensure dignified twilight years for the pensioners?

— The fact is that in our country a huge number of jobs have become obsolete, and our economy continues to pull this ballast. I do not know, maybe these are some sentiments of our officials to the USSR, in which the command-administrative system was established. Young people will not take such jobs. Eastern regions are looking for work in neighboring Russia, residents of Hrodna and Brest regions — in Poland and Lithuania. And our system continues to produce inefficient workplaces that needed to be written off to the dustbin of history 15 years ago. So, the retired people fill the gaps.

— The media has repeatedly reported that the authorities will retain 40% of the pensions of the Belarusians, who continue to work. Do you think this is a real scenario with the continued increase in the number of pensioners in the country?

— Anything can be expected from our authorities. If they dare to take such steps, the number of working pensioners will drastically decrease. This does not mean that there will be people on these jobs. Please note that I am not talking about leadership positions, where we have “tamed” pensioners, we mean wardrobe attendants, cleaners, janitors and watchmen. Young people will not take these jobs. It's time to get rid of fantasies and live in the reality.