25% OF RUSSIANS TO ACCUMULATE PENSIONS IN 7-10 YEARS

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MOSCOW, March 22, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin believes that in 7-10 years, nearly 25% of the population will start accumulating pensions voluntarily, as the system requires.

When speaking at a RIA Novosti press conference on Monday, the Foreign Minister stressed that some Russians would hardly participate in this system at all.

In particular, he pointed out the category of people with high incomes, who accumulate money for the older age in other ways. "They will save money in other ways, for example, by buying shares and promissory notes," said Mr. Kudrin.

The Finance Minister stressed that the majority of Russians might opt for the voluntary pension insurance system. He expressed the hope that Russians would develop "the culture of taking care of their future," as he put it.

"This will be the majority of those who cannot afford to provide for their pension age otherwise, by other incomes and other schemes offered by insurance companies," he added.

The Finance Ministry and the Economic Development Ministry suggest that the accumulative pension system be completed by the so-called "voluntary bloc." According to it, citizens can put aside 4% of their wages to the accumulative system. Those who choose this system will have no less than 2,000 roubles a month provided by the state.

"This 2,000 rouble will be allocated for citizens' individual accounts to be subsequently transferred for the future pension," Minister of Health and Social Development Mikhail Zurabov said at the press conference.

In his words, this proposal will be discussed by the State Duma (lower house, already tomorrow.

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