To put it simply, some deputies of the State Duma suspect that a simplistic manipulation of data by the Federal Service of State Statistics (Rosstat) allows the Russian government and the Pension Fund to economize on indexation and surcharges for pensioners.
Recently, pension surcharges, new standards in the implementation of the maternity capital program, other social support measures and, finally, payments for the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II have got into the spotlight of public discussions. The discussion around them is taking place not only in society, but also in top corner offices. Apparently, the government and the Pension Fund have again come up with a way to put the numbers in the desired state.
The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Flesh
For example, not long ago Maxim Topilin, head of the Pension Fund, said where the agency is planning to take billions of rubles needed to pay maternity capital and to index pensions. According to him, in 2020, the income of the Pension Fund should grow by 13 bln rubles ($177,624,200) while the increase in expenditures is expected at 104 bln rubles ($1,420,993,600.) Officials are going to cover this deficit with the overall surpluses from the previous periods.
Apparently, even the relevant legislative framework has already been included in budget plans of the Pension Fund. The Duma adopted a bill on amendments to its budget for the period of 2020-2022 at the first reading. They are related to the new measures of social support which were originally proposed by Vladimir Putin as part of the annual Address to the Federal Assembly. In this case, greater emphasis is made on indexation of pensions and payments of maternal capital for firstborns.
Certainly, some questions immediately arose in society and among experts, such as where officials are planning to get money from to implement those ambitious social plans. The explanation for them was found rather quickly. According to Topilin, as of January 1 of this year, the balance in the budget of the Pension Fund amounted to more than 335 bln rubles ($4,577,239,000.) Allegedly, these funds will be be used to recover the gap between revenues and expenditures of the agency.
In addition, according to Maxim Topilin, these balances have accumulated thanks to “increased collection of insurance premiums.” As for the source of funds for benefits timed for the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II, the government is still thinking over it. Federal ministers are to find some 60 bln rubles ($819,804,000.) As Topilin notes, a decision to pay these funds from the agency’s budget has not been made yet. However, he is convinced that all payments will be made on time.
“Saving on a Tricky Recalculation of Payments”
Meanwhile, representatives of the parliamentary opposition disagree with the kind of mathematics applied by federal officials. Therefore, they sharply criticized the draft amendments supported by the parliamentary majority at the first reading. Moreover, the deputies of the lower house actually told off the Pension Fund, the Cabinet of Ministers and Rosstat, dismissing their actions as manipulations. "We are told that the deficit will be filled due to the balances, but these are not balances at all. These are savings on the tricky recalculation of payments. These are the games of our beloved Rosstat. After this agency became subordinate to the Ministry of Economic Development, it began to adjust all figures to the required indicators. If Rosstat is not engaged in outright lies today, it is certainly manipulating indicators," said Alexey Kurinny, a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF.)
Yaroslav Nilov, a deputy representing the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) also upholds a similar position. According to him, there is actually plenty of questions to Rosstat, as even inflation of a consumer basket calculated by department at the level of 0.7 %, "obviously will make some other value." At the same time, Nilov recalled that it is the 0.7% index that is used to calculate the indexation of pensions. To put it simply, some officials suspect that a little manipulation of data by Rosstat allows the Russian government and the Pension Fund to save on indexation and surcharges for pensioners.
As it was mentioned earlier, this measure basically covers the gap between income and expenditure of the budget of the pension agency.
As a result, the CPRF faction and A Just Russia did not vote for amendments to the budget of the Pension Fund. However, the LDPR, whose representatives also criticized these positions, voted for the amendments together with the parliamentary majority.