This Selected Issues paper reviews developments during 2001–02 in the Belarusian pension system, and discusses potential short- and medium-term reforms needed to put pension system finances on a sustainable path. The paper presents a short overview of demographic trends and developments in Belarus and their impact on the pension system. It discusses the financial difficulties of early 2002 and the policy measures the authorities took to deal with them. A critical review of the methodology used in preparing annual Social Protection Fund budgets is also presented.


This Selected Issues paper reviews developments during 2001–02 in the Belarusian pension system, and discusses potential short- and medium-term reforms needed to put pension system finances on a sustainable path. The paper presents a short overview of demographic trends and developments in Belarus and their impact on the pension system. It discusses the financial difficulties of early 2002 and the policy measures the authorities took to deal with them. A critical review of the methodology used in preparing annual Social Protection Fund budgets is also presented.

I. Pension System Finances and Reform Options1

Executive Summary

During the first half of 2002, Social Protection Fund (SPF) cash flow deteriorated rapidly and the ability of the government to pay pensions on time was cast into doubt. The SPF’s operating reserves were exhausted, forcing the government to support the fund with loans to minimize any delays in pension payments. Although deteriorating demographics and the use of the retirement system to reduce labor supply during transition are at the root of the financial imbalance of the Belarusian pension system, the severity of the problem in mid-2002 was amplified by unsustainable wage and pension policies. Specifically, in recent years, the government has administratively targeted economy-wide wage growth that was not supported by matching productivity growth. At the same time, the government tried to maintain a stable relationship between the average pension and the average wage levels. In the second half of the year, the authorities stabilized SPF finances through though short term measures on both the expenditure and revenue sides.

Systemic reforms are also needed. Belarus has not increased the retirement age and remains committed to maintaining the pension replacement rate. Pension reform opponents argue that life expectancy in Belarus is too low to justify an increase in the retirement age. Proponents of reforms point out, by contrast, that life expectancy at retirement in Belarus is close to that of both women and men in industrial countries. The current low retirement age reduces contribution periods, lengthens beneficiary periods, and results in high social tax rates and lower than optimal net wage and pension incomes. In addition to systemic reforms, including increasing the retirement age, it may be appropriate to consider the use of privatization receipts to finance die formation of a funded pension pillar.

A. Introduction

1. This paper reviews developments during 2001-02 in the Belarusian pension system, and discusses potential short and medium term reforms needed to put pension system finances on a sustainable path. Section B presents a short overview of demographic trends and developments in Belarus and their impact on the pension system. Section C discusses the financial difficulties of early 2002 and the policy measures the authorities took to deal with them. Section D presents a critical review of the methodology used in preparing annual SPF budgets. Sections E and F discuss short-term and medium-term reform options. In particular, Section F considers the possibility of using privatization proceeds to finance pension reform. One option would be to earmark privatization proceeds to short term liabilities of the SPF. Doing so would permit a portion of current SPF tax revenues to be set aside to partially finance a funded individual pension tier for current younger cohorts. Appendix I presents the results of simple simulations of the impact of increasing pension age on long-term pension finances.

B. The Interaction of Demographics and Wage Policies

2. The dependency ratio has risen sharply during transition. Owing to falling employment and a gradual increase in the number of pensioners, the dependency ratio rose from 0.45 in 1990 to 0.59 in 2002. (In other words, the number of workers supporting each pensioner—the inverse of the dependency ratio—fell from about 2.2 in 1990 to around 1.7.) During 1990-2002, total employment in Belarus declined by 16 percent, while the number of pensioners rose by 11 percent. The number of pensioners receiving disability pensions jumped by almost 13 percent, while the number of people receiving pension benefits for social reasons rose by 38 percent.


Employed Per Pensioner

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001


Average Pension as Percentage of Average Wage and Salary Income

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001


Pension Bill as Percentage of GDP

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001

3. SPF finances were also impacted by the rapid increase in the replacement rate (the ratio of average pensions to average wages). The average pension in Belarus rose from 32.5 percent of average wage and salary income in 1994 to almost 44 percent in the first half of 2002. For 2003, the authorities project the replacement rate to reach 45 percent.2

4. Both factors led to an increase in the pension burden. The total pension bill rose from 18.1 percent of the estimated wage and salary bill in 1994 (5.6 percent of GDP) to 27.1 percent in 2002 (9.3 percent of GDP).

C. SPF Finances in 2002

5. Real wage growth during 2000-02 was excessive and not supported by comparable labor productivity and economic growth. After rising by 13 percent in 2000, real wages rose by 31 percent in 2001 and by another 8 percent in 2002 (for a total increase of 61 percent over three years). By comparison, economic output, as measured by GDP, rose by just 16 percent during the same period. Significant increases in labor compensation had been promised before the 2001 Presidential elections, and were delivered late in that year. President Lukashenko’s election platform also pledged an average labor income in the economy of US$100 by the end of 2001, a pledge that was fulfilled in December 2001.3

6. The administrative wage increases in 2001 caused corporate performance to deteriorate sharply in early 2002. As a result of higher labor costs and the resulting decline in corporate competitiveness, inventories of finished goods surged and many companies faced severe cash flow problems. With only limited access to easy credit, wage payments were often delayed, and with them enterprise contributions to the SPF. Arrears on SPF contributions jumped by almost 50 percent in the first quarter of the year, from Rbl 79 billion at end-2001 to Rbl 117 billion on March 31, 2002.4 Tax arrears in the first quarter amounted to 6 percent of SPF revenues (and half of the SPF’sQl deficit).


Enterprise Profits as a Share of GDP

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001


Average Pension as Percentage of Average Wage and Salary Income

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001

7. Administrative wage increases also triggered proportional increases in pension benefits. The existing indexation rules in early 2002 required that pension benefits track growth in average wages and salaries very closely. Pensions were to be indexed any time the average wage in the economy rose by 10 percent or more. Therefore, relatively frequent administrative increases in labor compensation spilled over into pensions. For example, pensions were indexed five times in 2001. The very sharp wage and salary increase in December 2001 induced similar increases in pension benefits in February 2002, when the average pension was raised by 21 percent.

8. SPF reserves dwindled. As a result of growing arrears in SPF contributions and the sharp increase in pension obligations, SPF reserves fell from an estimated 12 percent of its annual expenditures at the beginning of 2000, to negative 1 percent by the end-March 2002.5 The dramatic deterioration in SPF’s liquidity led to some delays in pension deliveries.6 Although there were no arrears in pension payments, there were reports of delays within any given month.


Social Protection Fund Reserves

(In percent of annual tax income)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001

9. These shortfalls forced the central government to bail the SPF out. To ensure that pension obligations were paid, during the second quarter the Republican (central) government transferred to the SPF Rbl 66.5 billion (0.3 percent of GDP, or 2.2 percent of SPF revenue). This was the entire annual amount included in the Republican budget for transfers to the SPF, and was meant to cover child benefits paid by the SPF.7 Also, in May the Republican budget provided additional temporary support in the form of a Rbl 10 billion loan designed to ensure that pensions were paid on time. By that time, the SPF had serious liquidity problems, with cash balances often standing at about one day of expenditures.

10. During the summer of 2002, SPF finances were stabilized through a number of aggressive measures aimed at both boosting SPF revenues and slowing the growth of spending. Specifically, Presidential Decree No. 19 of August 6, 2002, required banks to add the personal income tax and social security contributions to the amount of loans that they extend to enterprises and self-employed entrepreneurs for the payment of salaries to their employees. The SPF also took steps to improve tax administration, including by tightening enforcement of social security contributions. They also implemented proposals to expanded the tax base by including individual entrepreneurs, a measure that is expected to yield an additional Rbl 50 billion (0.1 percent of GDP) in contribution receipts in 2003.

11. Even stronger measures were taken on the expenditure side. SPF outlays were reduced by a delay in the recalculation of pension benefits that effectively cut the average pension to 41 percent of the average wage during the fourth quarter of 2002 (from 45 percent in the first quarter). To slow down growth in pensions pension indexation was delayed until November 1, when they were raised by 12 percent, bringing the average pension to the level of 44 percent of the average wage and salary in the economy. The delay in the indexation resulted in estimated savings of up to Rbl 195 billion during April-December (0.8 percent of GDP).

12. The revised indexation rules also reduced the frequency of indexation. Instead of raising pensions each time wage growth exceeded 10 percent, they are now to be indexed at least once—but no more than four times—per year (with a target of two). Also, the wage growth indexation trigger was raised. Pensions must now be indexed if wages increase by at least 15 percent, rather than 10 percent as previously. If wages fail to increase by 15 percent, pensions must be indexed on November 1 of each year to the actual increase in the average wage. The minimum pension will continue to be indexed to inflation four times a year (at the end of each quarter).

13. The SPF also targeted other spending items for savings. The authorities re-negotiated pension delivery costs with the state postal system (cutting expenditures on this item by half, yielding savings of Rbl 5 billion in 2002). Further, significant savings have been achieved by limiting subsidies to finance visits to health spas, and additional savings materialized in the area of child allowances. The latter savings were realized when child allowances were indexed later in 2002 than had been expected at the time the 2002 SPF budget was approved.

14. As a result of these difficult measures, the SPF ended 2002 with a small deficit of Rbl 6 billion (less than 0.03 percent of GDP). Looking ahead, most of the measures taken in mid-2002 will have only a limited long term impact on SPF finances. Over the medium term, it is clear that Belarus faces a demographic situation that will make it difficult to pay pensions at levels the authorities would like.

Table 1.

Social Protection Fund Finances and Projections, 1997–2008

(In millions of rubels, unless otherwise indicated)

article image
Sources: Ministry of Labor and Social Protection; and IMF staff estimates.

D. Projecting Annual SPF Cash Flows

15. SPF revenue projections are based on the government’s official macroeconomic targets, and thus tend to be overoptimistic. In drafting its annual budget, the SPF is required to use the official macroeconomic growth targets prepared by the ministry of economy rather than more realistic, mid-point forecasts. In 2002 these projections have turned out to be unrealistic. For example, in its budget the SPF planned to receive Rbl 2,940 billion (12.0 percent of budgeted nominal GDP) in social contributions in 2002. However, despite much higher-than-forecast inflation and strong growth in wages, SPF contributions were only Rbl 2,916 billion (11.4 percent of actual GDP).

16. The ministry of economy target for average wage growth and the SPF forecast of tax compliance are particularly unrealistic. During 2002, although many enterprises could comply with administrative increases in the wage bill (often by running arrears on payments to suppliers or at the expense of profit margins), they were not then able to cover their obligations to the SPF, as evidenced by the sharp increase in arrears on SPF contributions. In projecting its 2003 revenues, the SPF is required to assume full tax compliance, an unlikely outcome considering that sharp growth in labor compensation has put serious strains on enterprise finances (Box 1). Finally, economic reforms and privatization are likely to rationalize and reduce employment, thereby—at least temporarily-—reducing total payroll and increase noncompliance.

17. The SPF is also required to administer many non-pension benefits. These expenditures include allowances to families with children, maternity and birth-related benefits, and benefits due to disability and death, as well as payments for health-related vacations. The share of these non-pension benefits rose in recent years from 1.8 percent of GDP in 1997 to 2.4 percent in 2002. Childbirth and benefits to families with children above 3 years old were shifted in 1999 from the Republican government to the SPF, with the agreement that the former would make transfers to fund these mandates. However, in recent years, funding from the Republican budget for these benefits has been set at insufficient levels. For example, in 2002 the SPF budgeted Rbl 165 billion to pay childbirth benefits and allowances to families with children above 3 years old. (In the event the SPF paid Rbl 132 billion, but received only Rbl 23.3 billion from the Republican budget.) In 2003, the SPF expects to be reimbursed for only 37.2 percent (Rbl 71 billion) of its obligations in this area (Rbl 197 billion).

Table 2.

Calculation of Pension Expenditure

article image
Source: SPF.

Projections for 2003

The SPF budget for 2003 projects nominal revenue growth of 43 percent, despite the authorities’ inflation target of 18-24 percent and GDP growth target of 6-6½ percent. As a result of unrealistic revenue projections, in 2003 pension benefits are projected to increase by 40 percent, and total SPF expenditures are expected to rise by 42 percent. Including transfers from the Republican budget of Rbl 140 billion (0.4 percent of GDP), the SPF projects to end 2003 with a small surplus of Rbl 50 billion (0.2 percent of GDP).

On current policies, the staff projects that the SPF deficit—before transfers from the Republican budget—could reach Rbl 270 billion (0.8 percent of GDP) in 2003. The staff projects that SPF revenues would grow by about 33 percent (in line with nominal GDP), owing to a more realistic assumption for real economic growth (3.5 percent), higher inflation (29 percent), and a 2 percent decline in employment. Compliance with social contribution requirements are projected to stay at a level similar to previous years. (Effective tax compliance stood at 81.7 percent in 2002, and for 2003 it is projected to be 82 percent.) No fundamental reform of the pension system is assumed, including changes in the pension indexation formula or an increase in the retirement age.

SPF Projections for 2003

(In percent of GDP unless otherwise indicated)

article image
Sources: SPF and Fund staff estimates.

E. Reforming the Pension System: Short- to Medium-Term Reforms

18. Belarus faces a need for deep reforms in the pension system over the medium term. These changes are driven by demographic factors, broader economic reforms in the economy, and prospects for further economic integration with Russia, including the unification of the labor markets.

19. On the revenue side, tax arrears and noncompliance on SPF contributions are likely to grow. Market reforms, including privatization and decentralization, are likely to increase the number of corporate taxpayers sharply, and thus could undermine the existing tax enforcement system in Belarus. It may be useful to consider merging all tax collection activities, including the collection of the social insurance contributions, into a single institution, such as the ministry of taxes and fees, given the broad overlap between the tax bases of the payroll tax and that of the personal income tax.

20. Therefore, most of the adjustment to the pension system finances will have to come on the expenditure side of the budget. Pension indexation rules will probably need to be revised. One possibility would be to delink pension growth from developments in wages and salaries. While it is important to be mindful of protecting the real value of pensions, it is possible that unemployment will rise over the medium term in Belarus. Thus, the current system of indexing pensions to the growth rate of the average wage could be replaced by a rule linking benefits to the economy-wide wage bill.

21. It would be important to slow the growth in the number of eligible pension recipients. To accomplish this objective, it may be advisable to consider raising the retirement age from the current levels of 55 years for women and 60 years for men. (The required duration of employment to receive full pension benefits is 20 years for women and 25 years for men.) To minimize social disruption, the process of increasing the retirement age should start as soon as possible, but be implemented gradually. For instance, it could be raised by six months every year until it reaches 62 or even 65, while unifying the retirement age for men and women.8

22. Some analysts have argued that the retirement age should be linked to life expectancy, which is much lower in Belarus than in the West. However, there are three fundamental flaws with this argument;

  • First, what matters for pension system financial sustainability is not life expectancy at birth, but life expectancy at retirement. Indeed, life expectancy of men at age 60 is about 14 years, not much less than the life expectancy of men at age 65 in industrial countries;9

  • Second, a worker who retires at age 55 instead of 65 will not only draw benefits for 10 years longer, but has contributed 10 years less into the pension system; and

  • Finally, as evidence from other transition countries shows, life expectancy at retirement is likely to increase in the next few years in Belarus as the economic situation stabilizes and the Belarusian population benefits from improved health care.10 Indeed, over the longer term, overall average life expectancy is likely to grow.

23. Reforms of the pension system should also encourage employment by retirees. The authorities should avoid discouraging employment of retirees by reducing the retirement benefits of working pensioners, including by setting earnings limits or imposing punitive taxation of retirees’ labor compensation. These steps serve to enhance pension tax contributions, and may embody an element of means-testing. However, attempting to address growing unemployment by pushing the pension-age population out of the labor force would undermine pension system finances.

24. The Belarusian authorities have begun preparing new pension legislation. On March 4, 2002, the Council of Ministers approved the Program for Reforming the Pension System in Belarus. This new pension legislation, which originates in the ministry of labor and social security, broadly corresponds to the reform principles noted above. For example, it would provide for a rise in the retirement age by 2.5 years for men and by five years for women over the next ten years. Each year, the retirement age would be increased by three months for men and six months for women. The proposed reforms aim at making the system more transparent by allowing the exclusion from the base on which pension benefit rights are accumulated of periods when a future pensioner served in the military, was on maternity leave, or attended school. The new pension legislation will consist of three major bills dealing with the state pension system and two additional bills to lay the groundwork for the creation of the private pension system: On Supplementary Pension Insurance and On Non-state Pension Funds.

25. The proposed reforms would also separate the financial management of the pension system from the administration of other social benefits. This would require that the SPF be broken into two separately-financed parts. One portion would finance public pensions exclusively, while the other would manage non-pension social benefits, though it is possible these will be consolidated into the Republican and local budgets.11

F. Options for Financing Pension Reform: Use of Privatization Receipts?

26. Privatization in Belarus is only now getting under way. Whereas in neighboring transition countries the bulk of state assets were sold off some time ago, the authorities in Belarus are seeking at this stage to complete the process of corporatization. They expect to divest of holdings in a number of large enterprises over the coming year or two. Thus, it may be possible in Belarus to gain public support for privatization by linking the proceeds to pension reform.

27. From a political economy standpoint, it could be argued that all of the investment in the state assets about to be privatized was financed by the current older generation. In a sense, those who worked during the postwar era financed the construction and maintenance of public enterprises. Therefore, political support for privatization might be enhanced if the authorities were to link the use of privatization proceeds to financing pension reform.12 The calculations below simulate the impact of dedicating privatization proceeds to pension reform in Belarus.

Simulation assumptions

28. To simulate the use of privatization receipts to support pension reform, the following is assumed. At the end of 2003, resources from privatization are assumed to rise to at least Rbl 2 trillion after large scale privatizations are completed. (These include the receipts from the sale of government’s stake in Slavneft in December 2002, and those from the sale of petrochemical companies in 2003). The authorities earmark these resources, and the accumulated interest (at 2.5 percent annually) over ten years, to finance pension reform. The SPF is not projected to generate significant surplus on its own in the coming years. Therefore, in the absence of the privatization funds, the authorities would have to increase the SPF contribution rate to generate the surpluses needed to finance its current pension and social welfare obligations as well as the funded pillar of defined contribution retirement accounts for the current working generation. However, the availability of the privatization resources permits the establishment of a funded pension tier without increasing the SPF contribution rates. The SPF could use the privatization resources to partly finance pensions of the current retirees, and use the surpluses between its current revenues (mainly from social contributions) and current expenditure to finance a funded pension tier for the current working generation.

29. For the purposes of this simulation, macroeconomic developments follow a baseline scenario which assumes macroeconomic stability continues to be a problem and structural reforms move slowly.13 In this scenario, GDP growth declines to 2.5 percent in the medium term. Wages grow at a rate that is 1 percentage point slower than GDP in 2004 and ½ percentage point less than GDP thereafter. Pensions are assumed to grow at the same rate as the growth rate for wages. (See Table 3 for detailed results of the simulation.)

Table 3.

Financing Scenario for the Use of Privatization Receipts to Finance Pension Reform

(In billions of 2003 rubels unless otherwise indicated)

article image
Source: Staff simulationsAssumptions:Privatization account yields 2.5 percent in real terms. Pays an annuiiy to the Pension Fund calculated to exhausl the Fund in 2014.Average real wage and salary: For 2004 growth follows real GDP growth less 1 percentage point, for 2005-2013 follows real GDP growth less 0.5 percentage point.Average pension: For 2004-08 follows wage and salary growth; for 2009-13 slows to half the rate of wage and salary growth.Pension Fund own revenues: Grow in line with real wage and salary, growth and growth in working age population (0.25 percent per year over the period).Pension bill: Grows with average pension and the number of pensioners.

30. It is assumed that the government would launch broad pension reforms that would include the following measures, these measures are needed to ensure that the accumulated privatization receipts are not used to increase pensions in the short-term, but are rather saved to finance the formation of the fully-funded pension tier.

  • The retirement age is gradually increased from current levels to 65 for both men and women, to lessen the financial burden on the SPF.

  • The pension indexation formula would be delinked from average wages, to ensure that average pensions grow at the rate of the wage bill (i.e., taking account of increasing unemployment).

  • A funded pension tier is created for all those employed under a certain age, to be financed by part of SPF contributions.

31. Only after the above measures are approved should the SPF begin to use privatization receipts to pay current pension obligations. At the same time, the government would have to ensure that the current SPF surpluses are used as prescribed to fund the funded tier.

APPENDIX I: Simulation of Long-Term Pension Funding Needs Under Different Retirement-Age Scenarios

1. Using World Bank population projections we project the necessary social contributions to finance the state pay-as-you go pension system in Belarus during 2000-50. Although the projections are extremely simple, they give an indication of how high the social contributions will need to be to cover pension obligations in the next 50 years.

2. In the first case, the retirement age is set at the current levels: 55 years for women and 60 years for men. Under the assumption that the pension system can collect 80 percent of the social contributions due, the payroll tax needed to finance future pensioners will increase from the current level of about 29 percent to 62 percent in 2050.

3. In the second case, the retirement age is increased to 60 years for both men and women. Such an increase, under similar assumptions yields about 10 percentage points decrease in the required social tax rate needed to finance the pension payments in 2050.

4. In the third and most ambitious case, an increase in the retirement age to 65 years for both men and women requires a social tax rate of only about 32 percent in 2050.


Required Tax Rates to Support Old-age Pensions

(Retirement age of 55 for women and 60 for men)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001


Required Tax Rates to Support Old-age Pensions

(Retirement age of 60 for both men and women)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001


Required Tax Rates to Support Old-age Pensions

(Retirement age of 65 for both men and women)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2003, 119; 10.5089/9781451805123.002.A001


  • Andrews, E., and Mansoora, R., 1996, “The Financing of Pension Systems in Central and Eastern Europe,World Bank Technical Paper No. 339.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barr, Nicholas, 2000, “Reforming Pensions: Myths, Truths, and Policy Choice,IMF Working Paper 00/139 (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • de Castello Branco, Marta, 1998, “Pension Reform in the Baltics, Russia, and other Countries of the Former Soviet Union (BRO),IMF Working Paper 98/11 (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Feldstein, Martin, 1998, Privatizing Social Security (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press).

  • Fox, L., 1994, “Old-Age Security in Transition Economies,World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 1257 (February).

  • Heller, Peter S., 1998, “Rethinking Public Pension Reform Initiatives,IMF Working Paper 98/61 (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ILO, 2001, “Final Consolidated Report on Pension Reform Proposals in the Republic of Belarus,” ILO Moscow Office (March).

  • Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 1998, “The A-K Modell—Its Past, Present, and Future,NBER Working Paper No. 6684. Also available via the Internet:

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schiff, Jerald, Niko Hobdari, Axel Schimmelpfenning, Roman Zytek, 2000, Pension Reform in the Baltics: Issues and Prospects, IMF Occasional Paper No. 200 (Washington: International Monetary Fund.)

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • “Survey of Consumer Finances,” a triennial survey of the balance sheet, pension, income, and other demographic characteristics of U.S. families (Federal Reserve Board). Available via the Internet: http:/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Bank, 1994, Averting the Old-Age Crisis: Policies to Protect the Old and Promote Growth,” (New York: Oxford University Press).

  • World Bank, “Pensions Primer—Notes, Papers, Country and Regional Studies, Issues in Pension Reform,” Available via the Internet:

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Prepared by Roman Zytek.


Although under conditions of low inflation some of the increase in the average replacement rate could be attributed to the increase in the number of retirees (as new retirees receive higher than average benefits), this argument does not apply fully to Belarus, where the distribution of pensions was compressed by the need to compensate for high inflation rates.


To some extent, the government tried to justify the increases in real wages above productivity growth as compensation for increasing the utility rates paid by households to limit cross-subsidization. However, in practice, the increase in the economy-wide labor compensation bill went well above the amounts needed to compensate households for higher utility tariffs and housing rents.


Almost Rbl 55 billion in arrears due to the SPF were accumulated by enterprises belonging to the ministry of agriculture, Rbl 41 billion: ministry of industry, Rbl 3.3 billion: ministry of architecture, the debt of budget organizations being Rbl 9 billion.


The SPF entered 2002 with Rbl 46,7 billion in accumulated savings from previous periods, or an equivalent of 20 percent of its monthly expenditure during January-March 2002. By the end of March, the SPF held a negative net cash position of Rbl 29.3 billion. The loss of reserves virtually eliminated capital revenue of the SPF (about 2 percent annual SPF revenue).


Moreover, contributions to the SPF are based on wages of the previous month, but are received by the SPF only in the following month. However pensions are paid for the current month, so high inflation tends to undermine pension finances.


Although in previous years the State budget allocated funds to support part of the SPF’s payments of child allowances, in practice, because of the SPF’s large surpluses, the actual transfers were much smaller than budgeted.


See Appendix I for a discussion of the impact of increasing the retirement age.


Life expectancy at age 65 in the U.S. stood at 17½ years in 2000. up from 14½ years in 1960, and was projected to increase to 20 years after 2060. See UNISEX Life Expectancy at Retirement Based on Period Life Tables, published by the U.S. Social Security Administration,


For example, in Estonia, life expectancy at birth for men plunged from 64.4 years 1991 to 61.1 years in 1994, before recovering to 64.4 years in 1998. Similar patterns were observed in Latvia and Lithuania.


For detailed discussion of proposed pension reforms in Belarus see ILO (2001).


To some extent, this notion responds to a distortion in the allocation of assets in transition countries. Empirically, in most Western economies, the distribution of assets is strongly skewed in favor of the older generation, while in transition countries, such as Belarus, this is not the case. (For the U.S., see “Survey of Consumer Finances,”


See accompanying staff report.

Republic of Belarus: Selected Issues
Author: International Monetary Fund