YEREVAN, February 21. / ARKA /. The U.S. government stands ready to assist the consistent efforts of the Armenian authorities in introducing the funded pension system, US Ambassador to Armenia, John Heffern, said at the Third Annual Pension Conference today.
According to the ambassador, the pension reform is important because it affects each and every citizen of Armenia, because Armenia must find a way to provide pensioners more economic security, because the structure of employment and Armenia’s demography have changed and finally, it is important because the new pension system will give workers the option to shape their pension and contribute to their own retirement savings.
“Pension reform is one of the more challenging reforms that any country faces. This is why Armenia has engaged international experts and spent more than ten years carefully selecting and developing a new pension system, tailored to Armenia’s demographic and economic needs,’ the ambassador said.
The ambassador said the government, working with civil society and the media, should educate and explain the reforms – not just once or twice, but over and over.
“Public trust would be enhanced if citizens on all sides of the issue have the chance to provide input as part of the Government’s public education efforts. An accurate, inclusive, transparent and comprehensive awareness campaign enhances trust towards reforms and contributes to their eventual success.”
The conference was organized by the Pension System Awareness Center Foundation, under the leadership of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia and with support from the USAID-funded Pension Reform Implementation Program and the Finance for Economic Development Program.
It provided an overview of the past ten years of work that laid the foundation for the introduction of the multi-pillar pension system in Armenia. The event focused on the results and challenges that have emerged over the last three years since the adoption of the new pension legislation.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Sargsyan shared the primary motivations behind the introduction of the new pension system. He discussed its necessity and inevitability in view of the socio-economic developments of recent decades and its painful reception by the generation that had to carry the burden of the first wave of the reform, resulting in behavioural and cultural changes.
Ambassador Heffern spoke about the challenges and perspectives of introducing the funded pension systems and noted that the U.S. Government was ready to provide continuous support to these efforts. He emphasized the need for public education and awareness initiatives on behalf of the Armenian government to provide detailed and clear explanations about the reform to all citizens of Armenia.
The conference was attended by Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Artem Asatryan, USAID/Armenia Mission Director Karen Hilliard, and members of the Pension Reforms Management Board attended the event. Participants also included high level officials from the Government and international organizations, representatives of the National Assembly and the Central Bank of Armenia, heads of several commercial banks, managers of other financial institutions including insurance, loan, and investment companies, actuaries, representatives of business associations.
Recently licensed asset managers “AMUNDI-AGBA” and “C-Quadrat AMPEGA” also had the opportunity to present their packages and policies to the conference attendees. -0-