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    ST. PETERSBURG, January 28, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent - North-West Anna Novak) - Pensions in Russia have grown by 3.35 times nominally and by 82% practically in the past four years. Head of the Russian Pension Fund Mikhail Zurabov said this to newsmen on Wednesday, following his meeting with St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko.

    "Expenses of the pension system in percentage of the gross domestic product reach very noticeable and high figures. Three years ago they made 4.5% of GDP, and now have exceeded 6%," Zurabov said.

    At the same time, he acknowledged that pension growth does not always improve pensioners' situation.

    In parallel with the pension reform, the country has seen some other drastic changes, in particular the reform of the housing sector where tariffs have gone up, and prices are generally swelling," added Zurabov.

    Therefore, he continued, pensions' increase is not enough for improving pensioners' situation. Efforts should be taken to make medical assistance and medicines better in quality and more affordable, and ease the burden of the housing and communal reform for pensioners.

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