Opposition to Mandatory Deductions: Law on pensions to take effect next month

Opposition to Mandatory Deductions: Law on pensions to take effect next month

Photolure

While trade centers and supermarkets of Armenia enjoy the growing holiday whirl, several hundred, mostly young, residents of Yerevan are out ignoring the bitter cold of mid-December, demanding that authorities listen to them.

The four non-pro-establishment parliament factions filed a motion to the Constitutional Court (CC) Tuesday demanding to declare anti-constitutional and to suspend the application the new law on Mandatory Pension Savings Fund to come into effect January 1, 2014. Prior to submitting the motion, those citizens of Armenia protesting against the law marched from Liberty Square to the CC building chanting ‘No to mandatory’, ‘No, No’, ‘Suspension’. The young protestors (the mandatory pension reform applies to residents under 40 years of age) delivered speeches urging the CC to resist the country leader’s, the parliament speaker’s and the prime minister’s pressure, reminding that all three have publicly spoken for the reform.

Protestors say they cannot trust five percent of their salaries to the pension funds since January, as they have no hope that the savings made over years would be returned to them after retirement. They insist that the reform has to be on voluntary basis, rather than mandatory, and demand to make the respective change.

Meanwhile pro-establishment forces, adamant in their determination to not allow postponing the application of the law, claim that the reform would secure a dignified retirement to the citizens of Armenia. The President has recently spoken in favor of the controversial reform.

“We want to avoid in the future the poor state of things we have today, related to the social welfare of elderly people. I see the reforms as something quite positive, and all those who support it should show very active involvement,” Serzh Sargsyan stated at the economy ministry last week.

The CC representative, who accepted the motion filed by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyunn (ARF), Heritage, Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) and the Armenian National Congress (ANC), said nothing definite on when the court would consider the motion, since it had to be studied first.

ARF leader Armen Rustamyan said that the fight would be limited to the CC, and that if the Court does not satisfy the citizens’ motion they would resort to other legal means of struggle – protests, rallies. Heritage faction leader Zaruhi Postanjyan, for example, is suggesting that a pan-national strike be declared. PAP faction secretary Naira Zohrabyan expressed a hope that “in this case the usual order from the top would not be effective and a fair decision will be made”.