The imprudence of a minister deceives pensioners

Undoubtedly, the group that finds itself in the most difficult situation in post-war Kosovo is that of pensioners. More than once it was made clear that pensioners are not receiving proper pensions, but rather only a form of social assistance. For several years, those who have never worked and never paid any contributions to the state received the same pension as those who worked for years in different organizations of the socialist system, but whose contributions remain locked up in the Fund for Pensions and Disability Insurance of the Republic of Serbia.

The latter is pulling all the ropes to delay the return of these funds as much as possible. On the other hand, the Kosovar state hasn’t done enough to find a solution to this situation and has proven too be negligent towards pensioners. State leaders have been unable to raise the issue in the negotiations with Serbia, especially after reaching the agreement on the normalization of relations with Serbia in early 2013.

Even worse, in mid-October this year, a news was given that pensions would be raised by 100 percent. It was promised that social assistance would be increased as well. A day later, the government itself confirmed that there would be no increase in pensions. It was said that at the moment this was only a plan, an idea for a future increase. Of course, this was very disappointing for pensioners.

Contradictory statements came from two ministers of the current government – a very irresponsible action from such high ranking officials.

First, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Arban Abrashi, stated that by December of this year, contributing pensioners would receive an additional 100 euros in their pensions. He said that the increase of pensions and monthly payment to families on social assistance would be possible “thanks to the Government’s savings scheme and social discipline”. According to him, pensions for contributors (those who were employed) would reach 250 euros per month; the increased pension would be allocated as of December. Additionally, those benefitting from social assistance schemes, would see a 25 percent increase in their monthly allowances. Families who receive social assistance of 70 euros will therefore benefit an additional 20 euro. While families with 10 or more members will receive 150 euros. In his statement it was stated that necessary funds are already available.

A few days later, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Avdullah Hoti, dismissed Abrashi’s statement. He appeared in a press conference and stated that the increase in pensions is just an idea that awaits approval. The only growth Hoti confirmed is that of an extra 19 euros a month on social assistance to 26 thousand families, for about 115 thousand members, which Abrashi also mentioned. Pensioners, meanwhile, were left hoping that there will soon be an improvement to their living conditions.

State authorities should be more cautious when making such statements, especially when it comes to the categories with special needs.

 

Emine Klaiqi
Prishtina, October 2015