Belarus raises retirement age by three years

By bne IntelliNews April 11, 2016

The retirement age will be gradually increased in Belarus by three years over a period of six years, according to a decree signed by President Alexander Lukashenko on April 11 that is likely to hasten similar measures in other former Soviet republics.

"The standard pension age will be gradually increased by six months every year until it reaches 63 years for men and 58 years for women. "There will be the same increase in the retirement age (by three years over six years) for those entitled to preferential, long-service and military pensions," the presidential media office said in a statement.

A rise of the pension age was one of demands of two international donors, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Russia-led Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development (EFSD), in exchange for new loans to Minsk. In late March, the country's government secured a $2bn loan with the EFSD.

The loan will be transferred in seven tranches in 2016-2018. After the first tranche of $500mn, the rest will be allocated depending on Belarus' fulfilment of other requirements - two tranches are supposed to be transferred in 2016, three more in 2017, and the final payment will be made in 2018.

The comparitively low pension age is a remnant of the broad social safety net the population enjoyed in the Soviet period. But it has increasingly come in the sights of finance ministries in Belarus, Russia and other former Soviet republics as they try to balance state budgets.

The Russian government will also hike the retirement age despite the approaching election season, Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev said in March. Ulyukayev  believes it "reasonable" to announce a retirement age increase after State Duma elections in September 2016. The age brackets are currently the same as in Belarus.

The government in Ukraine does not plan to raise the retirement age or change its system of calculating pensions for special categories of pensioners, it said in late 2014. However, growing economic pressure could prompt a policy review, especially following the announcement of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on April 10 that he will resign in days.

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