Pension dreamers: why the ideas of the Duma opposition are doomed to failure
Analytics

Pension dreamers: why the ideas of the Duma opposition are doomed to failure

30 November 2020, 12:03Photo: Яндекс ФОТО
The Russian pension system is experiencing more and more shocks from year to year.

In connection with the discussion of the Federal Law on the budget of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation for 2021 and for the planned period, the Russian media were “blown up” by statements by the leaders of the Duma factions about the need to reform the pension system. Let's evaluate their ideas.

Yuri Voronin, Doctor of Economics

The leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov, insists on the need to cancel the anti-national and anti-constitutional pension reform of 2018, which increased the retirement age is 5 years.

G. Zyuganov stressed that “today everyone has already seen that the pension“ reform ”is the most cannibalistic, immoral and in many ways criminal decision made by the current government. She covered herself with the need to accumulate forces and resources. But there was only an accumulation of misery, poverty and cynicism".

The anti-nationality of the pension "reform" was visible immediately, from the moment it was announced by the government. It is said succinctly. However, everyone remembers well how the Communist Party of the Russian Federation deliberately failed the paperwork for a referendum on pension "reform" and a request to the Constitutional Court on this vital issue for the people.

Leader faction "Fair Russia" Sergei Mironov believes that In Russia, a "cannibalistic" pension system has been built, in which 22% of income is taken away from the majority of Russians, but this still does not allow them to provide them with a decent old age.

According to Mironov, "it is necessary to radically change the existing pension system, to return to payments of pensions from the budget based on three criteria: seniority, wages and special working conditions, and pension payments from citizens' incomes should be directed there".

“As it happened in the Soviet years”, - added S. Mironov.

The leader of the LDPR made an even more sensational statement.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky believes that the Pension Fund should be abolished altogether. "This is a huge number of officials, premises, a huge bureaucratic structure," - said the head of the Liberal Democrats. According to him, citizens must pay pensions directly. This will be possible through digitalization.

Experts and even high-ranking government officials, apologists for the flawed socio-economic policy pursued in the country, suggest draining the structures of off-budget funds - the Pension Fund (PFR), the Social Insurance Fund (FSS) and the Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund (MHIF) - into one. The merger of funds, in their opinion, would save significant funds.

More radical proposals are also being put forward: to completely abolish the three funds and transfer their functions to the relevant ministries and departments, that the pension system, based on distribution principles in a market economy, has allegedly exhausted itself and has become ineffective; preservation of various benefits within the framework of the pension system in a market environment is not inherent in its functions, allegedly infringes on workers and puts them in an unequal position, being an additional financial burden on the Pension Fund.

FROM positions of scientific economic theory and positive world practice, the proposed proposals for the alleged improvement of pension provision are openly populist, social demagogy, pure PR, characterizing the dogmatism of thinking of neo-reformers.

No mergers of off-budget funds or even their abolition, no return to payments of pensions from the federal budget according to the Soviet model, when the Russian economy over the past ten years has deepened more and more into the socio-economic crisis, at best it will save scanty funds that will not be able to qualitatively raise the pension providing citizens to the level of developed countries of the world.

From a theoretical point of view, put forward proposals to improve the alleged pension - it is l ogika not economic and reformist, but a purely arithmetic, quite far from the economic essence of the processes under consideration - to "smear" the diminishing volumes of financial resources of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation without even creating the appearance of well-being in the country's pension provision.

Consider, for example, a proposal to reduce the staff of the RF Pension Fund. Indeed, the apparatus of the Pension Fund in Russia has really grown to an exorbitant size, it ranks first in the world in terms of the number of employees - over 100 thousand officials, almost 1.5% of pension contributions are spent on its maintenance and the luxurious buildings of the Foundation.

For comparison, the number of employees of the Social Security Administration in the United States is more than two times less, and the population of the United States is more than twice that of Russia, and the volume of pension and social benefits is almost nine times greater. In Japan, with a practically comparable population size as in Russia, the number of employees working in the pension system is four times less. But even if the staff of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation is reduced by 2 times, and it really is necessary to reduce it, that is, at least bring the number of officials to the level of the number in the United States, then the deficit of the Russian Fund will be reduced slightly, almost imperceptibly.

And no amount of digitalization, which, according to the leader of the PDPR V. Zhirinovsky, allegedly will allow paying pensions to citizens directly, will also not significantly increase the pension provision.

I convinced and will continue to convince neo-reformers that their logic of "reforming" the pension system with the current flawed Russian economic model, leading the country to a dead end - momentary, very similar to the biblical legend of the Evangelist Matthew, set forth by him in Chapter 14 of the holy gospel about how Jesus "fed about five thousand people, except women and children" with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Firstly, world experience shows that pension systems based on distributive principles are by no means exhausted. This system is still in operation in the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and other countries and testify to a high degree of "work" of the distribution principles of pension systems.

Secondly, the distribution function of the budget as an economic category, to which the budget of the Pension Fund belongs, is only a form of manifestation of its essential content - economic relations arising in the process of distribution and redistribution of its fundamental principle - the value of the gross domestic product (GDP) in order to protect workers in old age, in case of disability and loss of a breadwinner.

The Pension Fund as a non-budgetary fund of the state is relatively independent. In its economic essence, it is an integral part of the economic system of the state and functions primarily according to its internal laws, reflecting the trends and dynamics of development of the economic system. Before distributing and redistributing monetary incomes, the economic system, its development strategy, and the rate of economic growth must guarantee the volume of financial resources in the required amount to fully ensure all functions of the state, including pension provision. If the economic system of the country does not provide the necessary financial resources, which takes place in a collapsed, stagnating economy of Russia, then the distribution principles have nothing to do with it. That is, the roots of the pension crisis are rooted in the flawed Russian economic system, its functioning, and no small "games" with off-budget funds will be able to qualitatively to increase the pension provision of citizens.

Thirdly, the pension provision of many foreign countries today includes functions “unusual” for the pension system, a significant number of benefits. For example, in the United States, retirees have free medical care, free medicines, and pay low rent. There are special pension schemes for railroad employees, federal employees, and most state and local government employees. In Spain, all retirees have discounted public transport passes, and in some provinces they travel for free.

Liberal economists, politicians, and the ruling elite should finally understand that pension, which, in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, is a budgetary the obligation of the state is , first of all, the problem of the efficiency of the entire economy. To convince non-believers, let us show this relationship for the Russian Federation.

The average pension for those who worked all their lives, according to Rosstat, at the beginning of 2020 was 14,151 rubles, and for disabled people - only 8807 rubles. The leader of the "Fair Russia" Sergei Mironov said that many pensioners would certainly consider a good pension in the amount of 25-30 thousand rubles. I think that S. Mironov himself would be very “happy” to receive such a pension.

And now let's compare Russian pensions, including the proposal of S. Mironov, with the current pension provision in economically developed countries. In Germany, the average pension is 782 euros, that is, more than 60 thousand rubles. In England it is 610 pounds or about 55 thousand rubles. Americans, receiving $ 1,164 each - more than 80 thousand rubles. In Switzerland, the country's pensioners receive 1.7 thousand francs - more than 115 thousand rubles.

All this testifies to the complete failure of the "reform" of the pension system by liberal economists, who did not provide a decent old age for the majority of the country's pensioners, thereby actually violating Article 7 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which unequivocally stated that "the Russian Federation is a social state, the policy of which is aimed at creating conditions that ensure a dignified life and free human development".

In terms of such indicators of economic efficiency as GDP per capita, labor productivity, real income, Russia lags behind the developed countries of the world by more than 2-5 times.

For example, per capita GDP in developed countries, according to the International Monetary Fund, exceeds $ 50,000, while in Russia it is less than $ 9,000. The current Russian level of per capita GDP was reached by Great Britain and France about 40 years ago, and the United States - about 50 years ago. Hence the value of pensions in developed countries is 2-5 times higher than in Russia.

Low efficiency of the Russian economy is objectively reflected in low wages in the country, and hence very modest contributions to the Pension Fund. Russian liberals from the "economy" and politicians-officials, not understanding the deep essence of economic development, are looking for momentary ways to plug the holes in the pension system, and in the social sphere as a whole, admitted by them in the process of "reforming" the economic and pension systems according to defective recipes The Washington Consensus and IMF, developed, by the way, by the Americans for African countries.

Two years of pension "reform" have passed. Its results, unfortunately, turned out to be disappointing, completely crossing out the president's promises, significantly reducing the “stability and financial stability of the pension system”. Today it has become clear to absolutely everyone that the “reform” has led to a decline in the welfare of Russian families. People have made sure that the Russian state does not just give guarantees, but takes away previous achievements. The increase in pensions was just scanty. Instead of 14 thousand a month, non-working pensioners receive 15-16 thousand. But the payment for such an increase turned out to be great: 2 million people retired a year later, unemployment among pre-retirees rose sharply, and the opportunity for young specialists to get a job decreased. For a slight increase in pension, people were forced to work an additional five years, although it is known that the average age of a healthy life in Russia is only 62 years.

Russian liberal economists (former Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development, and then the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade M. Dmitriev, Minister of the Ministry of Health and Social Development M. Zurabov, Minister of the Ministry of Health and Social Development T. Golikova) carefully "studied" the experience of developed countries in the formation of the accumulative component of the pension system and implemented it in Russia, however, as always with domestic nuances, namely, exactly the opposite.

In almost all developed countries (USA, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Germany), approximately 50% of the total pension is paid to a pensioner from the state pension system. The rest comes from the accumulation system funds.

Ultimately, the wage pension replacement rate is now 76.1 in the US, 73.1 in Canada, 67.1 in the UK, 63.8 in Norway, 58.0% of earnings in Germany, of which a significant part - from 15 to 40% falls on the accumulative component. And in Russia, the replacement rate at the beginning of 2020 was 29.8%.

These are the "achievements" of the apologists of the socio-economic policy and pension provision in Russia.

First of all, let us emphasize that the funded component, and I had to justify this repeatedly (See, for example: Theoretical aspects of the pension reform in the Russian Federation. The Economist, 2005; Collisions and the reality of the pension system reform. AKSOR, 2008) in economically developed countries, it is formed not forcibly, as did the Russian market people - liberal economists, but on a voluntary basis. And in order for workers to participate in this process really voluntarily, consciously, it took enormous efforts of the state (including the media) to convince and prove the benefits for a particular person of participation in the funded system. At the same time, the state guaranteed the safety of citizens' funds by regulating the activities of pension funds and insurance companies. Even in the event of the death of a pensioner, the accumulated funds are not lost, but transferred to the next of kin.

The Russian state, for the sake of the ruling elite, playing into the hands of oligarchs and private banks, deliberately was not included in the safety of the accumulative component, did not find effective use of accumulative resources for the people, the state. The profitability of accumulative funds directed to trust management, to non-state pension funds, in view of the outright dishonesty and incompetence of the banking sector, was not only lower than inflation, but sometimes even a negative value. And the state calmly watched this fraud. Therefore, the overwhelming part of pension savings in real terms has significantly decreased over the years of its existence, which has become significant risk for future retirees. And people lost faith in this positive instrument of their future pensions.

Based on the positive world experience, decent pension provision in Russia even in the current socio-economic conditions cannot be achieved without restoring the funded component of the pension system, formed in the future on a voluntary basis , and under the guarantee of the state.

But to Russians really believe in the funded mechanism of the pension system, believe that the state is really responsible for the funded system, should be unfreezed funds allocated to the registered accounts of citizens in the accumulative the system since its organization (since 2002), but not just unfreeze, but restore them in full (taking into account all real refinancing rates and inflation rates). And no new concepts called "individual pension capital" "Guaranteed pension product" or "guaranteed pension plan", which have been developed by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation over the past four years together with The Central Bank of the Russian Federation and "feed" the naive population, cloud their brains, hardly anyone will believe.

And finally, the most important fundamental conclusion : reforming the pension system of the Russian Federation, which the leaders of the Duma factions and officials from politics rely on, clouding the eyes of society, playing into the hands of the current ruling elite, which has completely paralyzed socio-economic development, with the further implementation of the monetarist neoliberal model economic "growth" is absolutely impossible . From the standpoint of economic theory and thirty years of Russian practice, the implementation of this model clearly proved the collapse of Russian economic policy and crisis of the pension system! And no points, no accruals of pensions "by rank" will save the Russian pension system.

Scientific economic theory and especially thirty years Russian practice clearly indicates that the decision the fundamental issue for Russia - improving the quality of life of the population, the effectiveness of the pension system, are impossible without a radical change in the current socio-economic course , the elimination of those mechanisms that were launched by Gaidar and his supporters in the 1990s and which continue to be used to this day, without restoring the manageability of the economy on a scientific basis, forming a new model, and configuring a new type of Russian economy.

It is on addressing these fundamental issues and the efforts of opposition parties and their leaders should be directed, and not engage in populist statements and social demagogy.

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