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The Russian president and the prime minister have different views on the pension reform

November 01, 2012, 12:01 UTC+3

Some ministers, which are inspired by the support of the president, do not agree openly with the prime minister, proving the need for keeping the saving part of the pension

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The debates over the future of the Russian pension system that involved President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as opponents has a destructive influence on the government, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily affirms. Some ministers, which are inspired by the support of the president, do not agree openly with the prime minister, proving the need for keeping the saving part of the pension. Other ministers insist on the abolishment of a scheme, which is obviously detrimental to the pensioners. It is obvious to the experts that the disagreements in the ruling tandem are growing, but the critical mass, which is needed to take decisions on dismissals in the government, has not formed yet.

On Wednesday, Minister of Economic Development Andrei Belousov came out strongly against the elimination or reduction of the saving part of the pension system, the newspaper reported. The minister explained his position by the fact that the risks of this step exceed substantially the benefits. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is in an alliance with the minister of economic development.

No matter whether he wanted this or not, Minister Belousov actually does not agree publicly with the conclusions drawn by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. On October 30, the prime minister stated at a meeting with local activists of the United Russia Party in Perm that the saving part of the current pension system did not justify itself and needs some changes.

The initiatives of the Labour Ministry, which Medvedev supports, consist in taking a manoeuvre in the pension insurance system: optimise the tariff of the insurance fees in the saving part of the pension system, temporarily reducing it from six percent to 2-4%.

The debates over a draft strategy of the pension reform are public. However, the State Duma is preparing to approve a bill, which will cut the saving part of the pension system, without waiting for the end of protracted debates in the government.

The prospects for the compulsory enactment of this bill would not be put in question, but for Vladimir Putin, to the opinion of whom the State Duma heeds. In early October the president called at the forum “Russia, Forward!” rather for the retaining of the saving part of pension than its cancellation.

The opinion of the president, who is a more authoritative politician for several ministers than the prime minister, has a decisive role. The final say in the debates over the future of the pension system in the country will be with Putin, who enjoys the support of his experts. Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and the World Bank, who opposed emphatically the reduction of the saving part of pension, moreover, the abolishment of the saving part, are among these experts.

The ministers, who dared to disagree openly with the prime minister, are probably not under the threat of reprimanding. In this case Belousov and Siluanov actually reproduce the position of the president. But the political future of Medvedev, who begins to disagree with Putin’s position, is becoming vaguer. Although the disagreements over the procedure of the pension reform will not result in the immediate dismissal of the prime minister, the argument is not quite significant to ruin the ruling tandem, Vice-President of the Centre of Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin believes. “However, the scope of disagreements between Putin and Medvedev is growing, at some stage they can become cumulative,” the political expert warned.

The Russian White House did not witness such a large-scale and open conflicts for the society for a long time, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily affirmed.

Public reprimands to the ministers for the non-fulfilment of the May presidential decrees set an example of these conflicts, which did not emerge even under ‘technical’ prime ministers during the first terms of Putin’s presidency. The direct consequences of the reprimands are a scandalous dismissal of Minister of Regional Development Oleg Govorun. Now the disagreements pushing the state authorities in a deadlock over the pension reform show emphatically the instability of the current system of the executive authorities. It is not surprising that the federal government is not taken in earnest by a greater part of the electorate five months after the formation of the government, the newspaper reported.

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