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Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that it was not possible to raise the retirement age in the country
In the state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday, Putin dismissed the claims that keeping it at the present level would ruin the pension system. "There is no objective necessity to do so. If necessary measures are taken on time, there'll be no crises in the pension system," the president said, announcing the target of indexing pensions by 65 percent in 2007-2009. To resolve the existing problems in the pension system, it is necessary to use the available resources by improving tax collection and taking measures to stop the understating of wages, according Putin. "I'm asking the government to take the necessary measures," the president said. In addition, "it's necessary to create a system of stimuli" to encourage people to work after reaching the retirement age and continue with pension savings. In his view, an increase in the average pension in the period from 2007 until 2009 should amount to at least 65 percent. The head of sate called for resolving the issue of so-called "northern pensions." "Those who have already moved /from the north/ and those who will be coming from far north districts should keep the larger part of the pension they're entitled to. The decision must be made already this year. I'm asking the government to do it," Putin said. He proposed to use part the National Welfare fund to finance voluntary pension savings. He said a voluntary contribution of 1,000 roubles should add another 1,000 roubles from the national welfare fund. "This money should be invested and bring profit," the president said. "I'm asking the government to determine the maximum sum of co-financing, with the view of fair redistribution of money between various groups of the population. In the future, free resource of the National Welfare Fund would be spent on covering the deficit of the pension system, and if such a deficit develops. The Fund's financial resources should be built up to such an amount as to allow for reaching objectives with the revenue from their effective investing," the head of state said. Putin did not name any figures, saying the government was "apprehensive" of their announcement in public. "But it knows the sum. I'm asking that it does not remain an empty phrase." The above measures should provide for increasing citizens' pension savings and a reliable operation of the whole pension system in a long-term perspective. "Our culture has been historically based on respect for the people who have brought us up, and prepared us for life. The society that has disrespect for the old people has no future. In the difficult years of reforms, an overwhelming majority of pensioners actually found themselves living below the poverty line, in the first place because of the collapse of the then pension system, unadapted for market conditions. We have no right to repeat the past errors and should make all efforts to guarantee a decent life of pensioners in the future," Putin said.
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