Pension Reform: Bill continues to evoke protests as it awaits revision

Pension Reform: Bill continues to evoke protests as it awaits revision


Protests continue in Armenia over proposed amendments that would require citizens born after 1973 to have mandatory deductions taken from their salaries as a form of social security saving. At the beginning of this year, such deductions were begun, amidst widespread rejection of the law and challenges to its legality.

Early this month, Armenia’s Constitutional Court ruled that portions of the law were in fact unconstitutional, and suspended application of the law until at least September, by which time the Government and the National Assembly is to have amended the amendments.

During his first week in office, newly-appointed Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan announced last week that the compulsory element of the law will not be enforced while his Government searches for legal solutions. Nonetheless, many citizens argue that the bill violates their rights.

Under several provisions of the law on funded pensions, all working citizens in Armenia born after 1973 must pay five to ten percent of their salaries to privately owned pension funds in addition to other social security payments made by their employers. A civil initiative arose to oppose the law – primarily the compulsive payment clause – and grew in strength through an active social media campaign.

This week those working in the field of education and science joined the civil initiative campaigning against the pension reform and held a protest in front of the Ministry of Education and Science demanding a meeting with Minister Armen Ashotyan (who refused the demand).

During the discussion at the National Assembly, Artem Asatryan, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, said that a new bill needs to be introduced that would satisfy the need to establish old-age security but would also “drop sanctions against employers, which will be acceptable by wider layers of the public”.

The oppositional Armenian National Council party refused to participate in the commission formed for pension reform amendments.

“We are against this suggestion and our position about pension reform is clear – we found the compulsory element of the law unconstitutional and our decision hasn’t changed,” announced ANC spokesman Aram Manukyan.