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Pension Reform Remains Unclear After Parliamentary Committee Discussion

Acting RA Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Artem Asatryan (pictured) at a meeting of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Social Affairs today presented the draft plan to free from penalties employers who did not make controversial mandatory pension contributions on behalf of their staff. 

Some points were still unclear for some members of the committee; in particular, whether employers from now on will be required to make deductions from their employees' wages or not. 

After Asatryan addressed the committee, the chair, Republican Party of Armenia MP Hakob Hakobyan, asked for a clear answer to whether it is true that employers will not be held accountable for late payments or non-payments, but at the same time employers must continue to make deductions and keep those funds until the Constitutional Court's final decision on September 30. 

Asatryan said nothing. He was asked to answer the same question by Armenian National Congress MP Lyudmila Sargsyan and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) MP Artsvik Minasyan. 

Asatryan, however, continued to remain silent. 

"Will deductions be made from me [i.e. my salary]?" Lyudmila Sargsyan repeated. 

Asatryan answered the question with a question. "What have you arranged with your employer?"

The acting minister then said the issue to charge in the future refers to recalculation, and beginning the process of recalculation is premature, since there isn't yet a legislative instrument. 

"We have to consider that during this period 15,000 individuals made a choice [i.e. chose a private pension fund] and thus participated in the system. We have to find a solution also for them," he said, replying to a question on whether the money will be refunded or not. 

Another question on whether, in the end, the system will be voluntary or obligatory, Asatryan said, "It will be fine," and then added, "For all."

Armenian Revolutionary Federation representative Aghvan Vardanyan said, in fact, the new plan is a half step and will complicate the situation further. If this plan isn't changed, he will vote against it, Vardanyan declared. 

Photo credit: Armenpress