by Alexandr Avanesov
On 13 February the staff of the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) CJSC organized an action of protest against compulsory accumulative pension system. They claim that the ENA leadership should have waited the decision of the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the mandatory component before charging 5% pension contributions from their salaries. The employees are determined to fight till the end. Members of the public interest group "I'm Against!" also joined the protest.
ENA CJSC Spokesperson Natalya Sarjanyan told reporters the company did not make any illegal actions and observed the requirements of the law. Sarjanyan assured reporters that the 5% charged form the salary of the staff are saved on a special account and have not been transferred to any fund. If the Constitutional Court cancels the law, all the charged sums will be return to the staff.
Earlier, on 11 February, the staff of the South Caucasus Railway CJSC organized a similar protest. The law sparked public outrage throughout the country.
People are discontented not only at the mandatory component of the system but also at the absurd situation following 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. 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.
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).