YEREVAN, February 10. / ARKA /. Armenia’s economy minister Vahram Avanesyan has declined today allegations that major international financial institutions are putting pressure on Armenian authorities to make them shift to a new pension system.
"Neither the World Bank nor the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have ever said they would cut funding of Armenia in case we do not shift to the funded pension system,’ the minister said in a televised interview.
"I declare this as a minister. At any rate I myself did not see any document saying that introduction of the new pension system is a mandatory condition for the provision of financial assistance,” he said.
He also defended the Central Bank of Armenia’s desire to see the country shift to the new pension system describing it as ‘natural.’
"It is natural for the Central Bank to be interested in a capital market offering long-term loans,» said the minister.
The new pension system requires that all Armenian citizens born after 1973 pay social security taxes equivalent to 5 percent of their monthly wages, which will be matched and doubled by the government. That money has to be deposited with private pension funds licensed by the government late last December.
However, under increasing public protest against the pension reform the country’s Constitutional Court suspended some provisions of the controversial law announcing a detailed inquiry into the constitutionality of the law.
The highest court suspended Article 76 of the new law, which provides for penalties for failed or delayed pension tax payments, and the third paragraph of Article 86, which obligates employed citizens to choose a pension fund, among other parts of the law. The Court says it will conclude the inquiry on March 28, 2014.
The constitutionality of the law was challenged by three opposition parties in the National Assembly — the Armenian National Congress, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and the Heritage Party — along with the usually pro-government Prosperous Armenia Party. M.M.-0-