''First of all, working citizens need the pension reform. But they don’t approve it''

Director of Divergent ANO, social entrepreneur Roman Yegorov about the retirement age increase in Russia

''First of all, working citizens need the pension reform. But they don’t approve it'' Photo: Roman Khasayev

The debates about what consequences the retirement age increase in Russia can lead to haven't settled for several weeks already. And at this moment, there is a feeling most Russians didn't like this initiative. At Realnoe Vremya's request, Director of Divergent ANO, social entrepreneur Roman Yegorov shared his opinion about the upcoming reform.

Who needs the reform

A standing joke on the Internet today sounds like ''We've reached the quarterfinals, serfdom will return soon. Or the retirement age will rise at least once.'' This joke unites the attitude of our society to what's going on. And the reform's bad timing and expectation of something worse and clear understanding of how we pay multimillion honorariums of our football players.

It's also interesting even the most liberal and advanced speakers are saying the retirement age increase is a sensible step. ''The Pension Fund pays pensions from the money we're are making now. The quantity of people at the retirement age, firstly, is too big, and simple payments won't be enough, pensions will reduce. Secondly, the quantity of working pensioners increases all the time. You receive both a pension and salary. The pension reform is obviously needed,'' says Aleksey Venediktov, editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow.

Somebody counted that taxes of four working people are needed to maintain a pensioner. But the number of pensioners grows, the number of actively working and tax paying citizens reduces, while the democratic economy of the 90s didn't leave us a reserve for pensions.

By the way, take into consideration it hasn't risen in our country since about the 30s of the 20 th century, while the average lifespan was 43 years, no 66 like now. As much as we joke saying ''once on retirement – time to die', the pension reform is really needed. And it, first of all, working citizens need it, so that the tax burden won't be too heavy.

''As much as we joke saying ''once on retirement – time to die', the pension reform is really needed. And it, first of all, working citizens need it, so that the tax burden won't be too heavy.'' Photo: Roman Khasayev

Nobody wants it

However, working citizens themselves think about not taxes they're paying today but the freedom that's seen on the horizon in the far future. This is why they don't approve the reform.

I bet! People who almost became pensioners today began to work in the 70s, survived the hungry 80s, went through the 90s and 2000s. Their health requires a rest, not heroic feats. And wham! There is one year more, or three. I've collected a number of opinions of those working citizens in social networks:

''What the 2018 pension reform resembles me most is when parents say to their children: 'So no more extra-curricular classes, no more sweets, you will wear cast-offs. We don't have money for you any more.'' And the children loyally tolerates it. Like our society tolerates everything: denominations, devaluations, violation, robbery.''

''The Russian pension reform is profanity because the reform has nothing to do with real demands and needs of people who are older than 50 and is linked only with an aspiration to decrease budget spending and divest people of the money they've particularly worked all their life for, the money they honestly deserved.''

''To increase women's retirement age to 60 years and not to rack your brains with the question where to find money. Women live long. Why do they need to retire so early?''

Generally speaking, it's either a person or public strategist. Everybody has its concept on how to provide the state treasury. Most importantly, it's profitable. But western countries' realities show us a pension reform is easy almost nowhere. For instance, protest campaigns of thousands took place during an analogous reform in Brazil, even the building of the Ministry of Finance was occupied. Hundreds of people have been affected in Nicaragua, more than ten people died. The pension reform announced by the country's president Daniel Ortega, which presupposes a big rise in deductions from the salary to the pension fund, caused a civil disturbance in the street. Pensioners went on a strike first, then students and workers joined them.

''Protest campaigns of thousands took place during an analogous reform in Brazil, even the building of the Ministry of Finance was occupied.'' Photo: Reuters (tut.by)

How it looks in the West

It's interesting, by the way, a pension reform has never been adopted as fast as it's been in Russia. The retirement age was increased so suddenly only in Israel during an economic decline and in Greece – also during a crisis. The other countries adopt a pension reform softly, extending it for a long period of time and using referendums.

By the way, this tendency began as early as 8 years ago. Then the European Commission recommended EU countries to raise the retirement age to 65 years. It's considered the number of pensioners shouldn't exceed a third of the working population. And Europe will be able to save this proportion with this census. ''75% of residents of the European Union from 18 to 64 years must have a job,'' head of the European Commission Barroso claimed then. Moreover, EU countries were recommended to increase the retirement age to 70 years, but not now, by 2060.

And Europe started to take these measures. For instance, a referendum on retirement age took place in Switzerland last autumn. But the majority of participants denied the offers of authorities, and the issue was postponed.

Though it's completely useless to compare us with Europe in this respect, in fact. Why? It's enough to look at the numbers that are quite available on the Net. And compare the average lifespan in Russia and Europe. It turns out if you retire at 70 in Europe, you have another 10-15 years of active life, while in Russia you'd have been dead for four years already.

''A referendum on retirement age took place in Switzerland last autumn. But the majority of participants denied offers of authorities, and the issue was postponed.'' Photo: Reuters (day.kyiv.ua)

How it looks in Russia

It's important to understand that not only lifespan in different in the West. The quality of life is completely different too. A western and Russian pensioner are two different pensioners.

What a picture comes to your mind if I write a 'Dutch pensioner'? A cheerful grey-haired man with a fashionable set, in a jacket and jeans, is riding a bicycle in rainy Amsterdam or is going running in sunny Thailand. What a picture comes to your mind when I write 'Russian pensioner'? Crumbling walls in a hospital in Tyumen or Yekaterinburg, a queue in the polyclinic, coins in a wrinkly palm and a kerchief going down of her head. It's very different pictures and different lives.

This is why the retirement age increase in Russia should be a part of the programme on changing Russians' quality of life. Where is our medicine for pensioners that helps them not to survive but live after retiring? Where is leisure time for pensioners they can care about on the holiday they deserved? Where is nutrition that will allow them to reach the retirement age without oncological diseases and cirrhosis?

''The life quality in the West is completely different too. A western and Russian pensioner are two different pensioners.'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

An integrated reform in this sphere would be a real care about the citizens. The retirement age can be raised only when we cared about a comfortable life on retirement because the reality has changed. While we don't have it, the jokes about serfdom, football and pensions are a logical occurrence. Thanks for not going on a strike, so to speak. And they could go out like in Nicaragua.

By Roman Yegorov