What happens to Belarusians’ pension savings?
The number of working pensioners has increased in Minsk. 36% of the capital residents who should be on a well-deserved rest are under the necessity of working today.
What can such dynamics lead to and what does this mean for the country's economy?
Charter97.org’s questions are answered by economist Leu Marholin:
– Objectively, we can say that the economy of Belarus is aging. But in my opinion, this is not the most important thing in analyzing the situation with working pensioners.
What is more important here is that the “pension increase” widely advertised by the Ministry of Labor does not reimburse the inflation. And an increasing number of pensioners cannot survive on one pension and are forced to work regardless of their desire.
Often this is connected not only with their needs, but also with the need to help children, grandchildren and other relatives who, due to the crisis in the economy, also cannot earn enough money. Working pensioners in Belarus are a sad phenomenon, a least-evil solution, without which people cannot make ends meet.
– What could be the social consequences of this phenomenon?
– This leads to an increase in social tension, as it creates additional problems for the employment of young people, who then risk being listed as “parasites.”
Needless to say, in some places in Belarus retirees are mercilessly “given a goodbye” and they are made redundant in the first place. But at the same time, a lot of managers want to work more with an experienced pensioner who knows his business than with young professionals without skills and work experience.
Therefore, the load on the labor market is increasing in Belarus, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for young people, especially for those who are looking for the first job.
– The retirement age is gradually being raised in Belarus. This year it has been extended for half a year for men and women. The authorities refer to the practice of European countries, in some of which the retirement age is higher than ours. How fair are these “arguments”?
– Here we must take into account the factor that the average life expectancy in Belarus, especially for men, is significantly less than in Europe. Therefore, most Belarusians will actually have to work up to their death.
Moreover, there is a high probability that many Belarusians will not live to see the retirement. Life expectancy is like an average temperature in a hospital. And the low life expectancy of Belarusian men is connected precisely with the fact that many of them do not live up to the retirement age. And this is often associated with harmful working conditions.
The Belarusian authorities put the cart in front of the horse: instead of achieving better working conditions and average life expectancy first, they start to raise the retirement age.
The only real aim of this increase is the desire to save funds of the pension fund, which is already bursting at the seams.
Long-livers, who will manage to beat the state in this dishonest game, are very few – one in a thousand. And the state is deceiving the remaining 999 Belarusian.
For if you count the period and the size of paying contributions to the NSSF, it turns out that the pensioner must live in retirement without working for at least 20 years to at least somehow compensate for the money paid to the state. Very few people succeed to this, unfortunately. And the majority of Belarusians simply will not receive retirement money earned during their lifetime.
And don’t even ask about those who do not manage to live up to their retirement. The person has paid contributions to the pension fund – and instead of using his savings, as in normal countries, he gives his money to the state.
– The countries neighboring with Belarus pass laws in favor of pensioners: Poland has lowered the retirement age, Lithuanian citizens, in addition to the state pension, will also get a cumulative pension, the pensioner will get a part of the deceased spouse’s pension in Latvia. How far is the Belarusian pensioner behind the standard of living, compared to his western neighbors?
– The lag is huge. Contrary to popular belief that “the entire pension goes to communal bills” in the Baltic countries, everything actually looks exactly the opposite.
If we are to say that some state is building a socially oriented economy, then it will be Lithuania and Latvia, and not Belarus. They really do something in favor of the citizens. We have been having Lukashenka in power for 25 years, and the life of pensioners has only worsened.
First, the privileges were taken from them, now they are raising the retirement age. In general, everything is done to ensure that pensioners do not live long, and their savings are transferred to the state.
– But what about Lukashenka’s statements that pensioners are his electorate?
– To be sure, it is difficult to conduct a sociological research in the conditions of Belarus, but based on what I and the people I trust know, I think that pensioners are not Lukashenka’s electorate. In general, it is almost impossible to find those who could be called his electorate.