by Taguhi Ochinyan
I'm Against! public interest group will continue its fight against the mandatory accumulative pension system, Arsen Manukyan, an activist of the group, told reporters, Tuesday. He said that the group will organize another rally in the Liberty Square on 22 March to make new demands to the Government. According to Manukyan, the public interest group has grown into a nation-wide movement against the pension reform.
The activists are discontented not only at the mandatory component of the system but also at the fact that some employers charge the 5% from the salary of their employees despite the Constitutional Court's decision of January 24 that suspended some provisions of the Law on the Accumulative Pension until the Court considers its constitutionality on Mar 28 2014. Earlier, the activists picketed the Finance Ministry and there were clashes with the police. "Despite the psychological and physical pressure, we will fight for our rights till the end," the activist said.
To recall, the voluntary accumulative pension system was introduced in Armenia on Jan 1 2011. The system will become compulsory starting Jan 1 2014. According to the bill, the minimal pension in the country will be equal to the minimum wage, while the basic pension will total 150% of the minimum wage. The compulsory accumulative pension system will apply to the citizens born after Jan 1 1974 (the citizens below 40). Starting Jan 1 2014, 5% of their salaries will be transferred to their personal accumulative accounts. The government will transfer a similar amount (but no more than 25,000 drams). Four opposition parties, ARFD, ANC, PAP and Heritage appealed to the Constitutional Court against the pension reform. The Constitutional Court adopted a decision on January 24 suspending some provisions of the Law on the Accumulative Pension until the Court considers its constitutionality on Mar 28 2014. The Court suspended Article 76 stipulating responsibility for refusing to make compulsory pension contributions or failing to do in time and Paragraph 3 of Article 86 saying that the employees covered by the system should choose a pension fund. Nevertheless, the Finance Ministry of Armenia urges employers to calculate and make accumulative pension payments and employees to choose a pension fund and a manager for it. The picketers call the given approach a robbery.