28  09.04.14 - I am Against rally in front of Finance Ministry of Armenia

Rally against mandatory cumulative pensions in Yerevan

Rally against mandatory cumulative pensions in Yerevan

PanARMENIAN.Net - A civic group campaigning against the mandatory cumulative pensions started a protest march Wednesday, April 9 afternoon. The march, which started outside the Ministry of Finance, aimed to dispute the government's decision to leave the legal provisions declared unconstitutional in effect for six more months, Tert.am said.

In a statement issued earlier, the activists of I am Against movement stressed that the State Revenue Committee has left the electronic reporting forms unchanged despite the Constitutional Court’s April 2 ruling, thus obliging employers to keep making salary deductions for the pension funds.

“We must force the State Revenue Committee to change procedures of submitting the electronic reporting forms to enable employers to avoid making pension accumulation payments against their employees’ will,” the statement said.

Former Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan joined the crowd of protesters, as they were making urgent calls for a meeting with Finance Minister David Sargsyan. The ex-PM asked them to create a working group to prepare a list of questions to be discussed with the Ministry of Finance right away.

The protesters voiced disconnect over Sargsyan's suggestion.

"If you want to hear an answer to the question you have raised, it is important for competent people to listen to you. You now have an exceptional opportunity, so I once again invite you to start a dialogue. Such matters are not to be discussed in the street. You are violating the rights of other people by struggling for your own rights. Once you are ready for cooperation, we will be ready too. I wish you good luck," the ex-PM said, leaving the crowd.

David Manukyan, an member of I am Against!, said they treat Sargsyan's call as an appeal by a former Prime Minister. "He is inviting us to a dialogue over the Constitutional Court's ruling. But a ruling by the Constitutional Court is not subject to a dialogue," the activist said, calling for the government to find a reasonable solution to the problem.

After the completion of the protest, the organizers called their supporters to participate in their new rally in front outside Matenadaran on April 12.

Armenia's Constitutional Court declared controversial clauses to the law on cumulative pensions invalid on April 2. The court ruled that provisions imposing mandatory cumulative pension system are at conflict with the country's basic law.

The court decision noted that the law fails to indicate requirements for those with minimum salaries of AMD 45000, with every citizen entitled to a salary no lower than a minimum one.

According to the Constitutional Court, the government and parliament must protect the citizens’ right to ownership.

The disputed provisions, which went into effect on January 1, obligated all employed citizens under 40 to allocate 5% of their monthly salaries to cumulative accounts, with the government to add another 5%.

Armenia’s leading opposition parties challenged the legality of the law at the Constitutional Court. On February 4, Armenian parliament voted down suggestion of a year-long delay for introduction of a mandatory cumulative pension law, with 46 votes in favor and 56 against. he suggestion was initiated by the Prosperous Armenia, Armenian National Congress, Heritage and ARFD parliamentary groups.

On January 24, the Constitutional Court suspended the provisions of the law envisaging sanctions for not complying with it at least until March 28 when it is due to proceed with consideration of the matter.

Government agencies, however, have continued to force employers to make deductions from the salaries in favor of the funds, which activists and non-government political forces insisted was contempt of the Court’s decision.

"The provisions of the mandatory cumulative pension law declared unconstitutional will remain in effect until September 30," a member of the Constitutional Court said, commenting on the top court’s April 2 ruling.

“The Constitutional Court didn’t declare the whole mandatory accumulation system is unconstitutional. What we have said is that the model submitted contains anti-constitutional provisions which must be revised by competent authorities – the government and the National Assembly,” Felix Tokhyan said in an interview with the local TV channel Shant.

“The law on mandatory cumulative pensions will stay in effect until September 30,” then Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said at the April 3 government session.

“The law, which came into force on January 1, will stay in effect until relevant amendments are introduced, with citizens and business entities as well to be guided by the law,” Sargsyan said.

As he noted, a working group involving all departments in charge will be set up. A legislative package taking into account all the norms indicated by the Constitutional Court will be submitted to the parliament.

Sargsyan also called on all civil activists to cooperate in the development of a new package. “We expect a dialog,” he said.

“Failing to observe any of the provisions of the law will entail consequences, Minister of Justice Hrayr Tovmasyan told reporters.

“When the law on the Constitutional Court was adopted in 2006, it envisaged a number of procedures for the enforcement of its rulings. According to Point 15 of Article 68 of the law on Constitutional Court, a law ruled unconstitutional becomes invalid during a later period, with the provisions to remain valid till September 30” the minister said.

According to Tovmasyan, the Constitutional Court’s ruling will actually facilitate long-term progress in Armenia’s social security system.

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