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Belarus president: Raising the retirement age for everyone would only be fair

MINSK (BelTA) – It would only be fair if the retirement age was raised for everyone. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko made the relevant statement during the government conference held on 10 March to discuss the development of the pension system, BelTA has learned.

“But we have to bear in mind all the factors: the life expectancy of men and women, peculiarities of rural and urban areas, working conditions in some industries and other factors,” said the head of state.

The President stated that the average life expectancy in the country has increased in comparison with the 1990s. “This is why 55-60 years is a normal age. If you tell a 55-year-old woman that she is old or a pensioner, she will be offended! But if we try to offer jobs to the same woman, the opinion changes for some reason. The same can be said about men. They keep their feelings to themselves. A man 60 years of age is a horse that can still work hard,” said the head of state.

“Let's talk about our famed law enforcement officers, who can retire at the age of 45 today. Over 90% of them can retire at 45 but what kind of pensioners are those?! I think it would only be fair if the retirement age was raised for everyone,” believes the President.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that he is split between suggestions of the government in favor of raising the retirement age and the public opinion, which is against such a move.

The President pointed out that people are actively debating this idea. Everyone would like higher pensions for the sake of proper living standards yet opinions about ways to achieve that goal often differ.

“I am now split between two views. First, the government suggests remodeling the pension system. Various proposals have been voiced including in favor of the Russian model,” noted the head of state. “We are talking about raising the retirement age for now but later on the entire system may be reformed, some parts can be changed or polished. It is one point of view, the view of the government.”

“The general public represents the other point of view. Frankly speaking, according to my data and, I am confident, the data is precise, we have not yet reached a point where an overwhelming majority of the nation supports the government's proposal to raise the retirement age. We are close to half of that. And people respond to our proposals, to requests albeit slowly but after we explain things to them, they understand what we are talking about. Belarusians are educated people,” said the President.

“I am split between two sets of opinions: the government's proposals, which are based on economics — and I absolutely agree with them on that — and the nation's opinion, which I cannot ignore,” stated Alexander Lukashenko.

“I've been thinking about the problem long and hard and will base my decision on the principle I have always followed: we have to manage the processes going on in the society and economy instead of letting the processes manage us. If the situation is tolerable, we can put up with it. But if it is approaching a threshold we cannot let it go over, we have to make the decisions. We cannot allow these processes to control us because the outcome would have a negative impact in politics, economy, and finance,” believes the Belarusian leader.

“This is why I would like the government to answer the question: have we approached the threshold when we have to decide or is the situation still bearable purely from the economic point of view?” stressed the President.

“It is necessary to attentively and thoroughly consider all the aspects of the matter and work out optimal variants in order to make our pension system reliable and smoothly operating for the benefit of the nation,” added the head of state.