War, pensions and the Kremlin: In Syria, the retirement age will not increase


How does Assad manage to continue to pay old people during the war.

In Syria, they were not able to accept pension reform. It had to raise the retirement age, as Russia did a year ago. Damascus, too, tried to carry out a similar pension reform. There have been proposals to do this in several ways. The first one is standard, it’s Russian: they just raise their age and that’s it, and the second meant an increase in the required length of service. The essence of this does not change, so that people in any case will be dissatisfied, because it is actually deprived of money.


Such a need for the Syrian authorities appeared in connection with the expansion of the territories subject to Damascus. The more cities and villages you control, the more people you are forced to provide. One would have thought that in the war collapsed SAR the government had long since forgotten about the people, but this is not the case. Yes, rights and freedoms are regularly violated, and you don’t even have to guess why, but in terms of paying pensions and other benefits, Damascus is very responsible. Yes, the same Bashar Asad, whom half the world calls the murderer, paid pensions during the entire period of the civil war (except for a few months). Pays now.


As mentioned above, he now has to pay many times more. Previously, he had only Damascus from major cities, which did not fall under the onslaught of Baghdadi fanatics (the leader of the Islamic state), then Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and so forth appeared. But there are still a lot of small cities, villages and refugee camps, in some places still functioning. And everywhere are the citizens of Syria, destitute, humiliated and in dire need. Among them are many old men. And Assad considers his duty to pay them money. Well, very commendable. Only now with each freed territory of pensioners it becomes more, therefore, the load on the budget increases.


How does Damascus manage to fulfill its obligations to the elderly without any pension reforms?


The pension system here works about as well as in Russia. They retire at 60 (men) and 55 (women). If the experience is more than 20 years, then you can become a pensioner at 55 and 50. And if the experience is more than 25 years, then age does not play any role. There is a social pension, but in order to receive it, one must pass the standard threshold of 60 and 55 years. The amount of the pension is calculated as follows: 2.5% of the basic salary is multiplied by the number of years that a person has paid contributions to the local fund. There are a number of privileges for people of special categories – government officials, security officials and those who worked hard. Firstly, they retire earlier, and secondly, they are much more likely to raise the amount of payments.


Now to the fun part. A pension fund is formed, as in Russia, at the expense of workers’ payments. It seems that everything is simple, only here in Syria, there is insane unemployment and beggarly wages. Here, after the war, very few fully functioning buildings remained, what to say about enterprises and workplaces!


According to the latest data, regular deductions are made only by public sector employees. 90% of public sector employees pay part of their salaries to a pension fund. But the private sector practically does not participate at all in its formation. Only 9.5% make regular payments. It should be understood that in the private sector about 50% of Syrian citizens are involved, so the losses for the budget are enormous.


It is logical to assume that Damascus is extremely concerned about the most serious deficit of the pension fund and seriously thinks about default if you consider all other problems that have piled on it in connection with the civil war. Well, there were such ideas, and until now, local intellectuals both from the opposition and those who support the authorities are writing about the default from time to time. But it seems that Assad does not even think about it. Money comes to people, and no one is going to block this channel. Quite often, regional officials say that no changes are foreseen, and pensions will continue to be paid regularly, and no one is planning to carry out pension reform. Moreover, in the near future the size of payments will increase. Where do such opportunities come from?


The Syrian, who previously worked in the GESI (General Directorate of Social Insurance ) Ahmad (name changed at his request) reports that in Syria most of the money that was intended for pensions was received, for example, according to him, about two hundred million dollars allocated by Russia for the restoration of the electric power sector of the SAR were sent to a pension fund. And for the purpose they spent only 50 million. Sometimes some funds are allocated as donations from various foreign foundations and other organizations. Sometimes the UN helps, but most often Iran is spent on it. Rather, it is spent on other projects, but it turns out that for old people there is no place to take more money.


It is not even strange that Russian or anyone’s money go for pensions to Syrians. No, this paradoxical responsibility of the Syrian authorities in the matter of paying the money owed to the elderly surprises. As you can see, the money is not stolen, it is not spent on the purchase of new missiles, sometimes so necessary, but they are used to provide pensions who are not stifled by pension reforms and weaning. Of course, people receive very little, but if you remember that many of these people actively protested against Assad and tried to overthrow him, then the Syrian president in general could refuse to support them. Moreover, for this he has a lot of valid reasons – terrorists, Americans, Turks, Kurds, sanctions, and so on. However, he pays, does not raise the retirement age and actually increases the size of payments every three years.