Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has returned a bill on a reform of the pension system to the parliament, the presidential official website said June 7.
"I have closely observed the broad public debate during the whole process of its creation, discussion and adoption," the president said. "I am familiar with the arguments of the supporters of the new legislation and those who oppose it. It should be stressed that the issue of the unification of the retirement age for men and women was most acute in the current discussion. The reason is the clumsy actions of the government and the National Bank. First, an important social bill was promoted as an "ordinary" legislative act, rather than a necessary, vital measure guaranteeing the well-being of the people and the effectiveness of the national pension system in the long term."
He added that the government and the relevant ministry failed the work on defending the bill in the public debate.
"As a result, most Kazakh people are suspicious of the pension reform and do understand its meaning," he said. "In general, the government and the National Bank unsatisfactorily explain the new pension legislation to the population. It is clear that the changes are required in the pension legislation. This is a global trend."
As an example, he cited the European Union countries and other world regions where the authorities were forced to do this during a severe crisis and a looming recession.
"Only the modernization of the pension legislation can provide Kazakh retirees with firm guarantees of the welfare," he said. Only in this case, the accumulation system will effectively operate in the long-term. Our society can be saved from the crisis of the pension system this way, when the society and the state could not pay pensions, as this happened in 1990s, when the Kazakh retirees have not received the pensions for several months, and their amount was scanty."
The President also stressed that the main argument in favor of raising the retirement age for women was a projected deficit in the payment of pensions, which is stipulated by the aging population, increasing life expectancy and the fact that 70 percent of pensioners will be women.
"The budget expenditures on pensions without a phased increase in the age of women for 2014-2024 years will grow by 3 trillion tenge," he said. "This will be a challenge for future retirees, to whom the government will fail to pay pensions. We have to solve this issue now. The retirement age for men and women is the norm in the most developed countries. For example, the retirement age of men and women is 67 in some European countries. At present, many countries make such a decision in terms of the global crisis as an inevitable measure."
According to the President, the Kazakh government previously offered to smoothly pass to higher retirement age for women.
"While realizing the importance of this decision for the people, Majilis and the Senate of the Parliament approved a package of new legislation on the pension system, which is the correct decision, because many of the provisions of the law are required to improve the social situation of our citizens," he said. "In general, I support the bill. I propose to gradually increase the retirement age from January 1, 2018, rather than from January 1, 2014. This will enable to upgrade the pension system by fully taking into account the interests of Kazakh people."