Armenian Government Attempts to Justify Refusal to Raise Pensions for Elderly

Armenian Government Attempts to Justify Refusal to Raise Pensions for Elderly

Finance Minister Vahe Hovannisian’s assertion on Wednesday that the Armenian government won’t raise pensions this year, despite planning a 23 percent increase in overall expenditures, has drawn criticism.

Hovannisian defended the decision, stating to reporters, “The reason why pensions will not rise in 2024 is due to our differing spending priorities.” This justification comes as the government set the spending target late last year, citing a significant increase of over 15 percent in tax revenue collected in 2023 amid ongoing economic growth in Armenia. However, the bulk of the additional expenditure outlined in the 2024 state budget is allocated to infrastructure projects.

His statement raises eyebrows, particularly considering the dire financial situation faced by many pensioners. The average monthly pension in the country remains stagnant at about 50,000 drams ($123), significantly below the per-capita minimum cost of living. With the “consumer basket” calculated by the Armenian Statistical Committee standing at just over 80,000 drams ($198), pensioners are left struggling to make ends meet.

Critics argue that the government’s failure to prioritize pension increases underscores a lack of concern for the well-being of its citizens, particularly the elderly. Despite modest adjustments made last June, totaling a mere 6,000 drams per month, these incremental raises have failed to keep pace with inflation, further eroding the purchasing power of pensioners.

In light of these circumstances, Hovannisian’s defense of the government’s stance on pensions is met with skepticism, with many questioning the administration’s commitment to addressing the pressing needs of its most vulnerable citizens.