Retirees across Iran marked Social Security Day on July 16 by calling on the government to adjust their pensions in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and improve the quality of their national healthcare scheme.
The government, the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) and the Social Security Organization (SSO) have so far taken no meaningful steps to address these issues.
“The cost of living has risen considerably in 2019 compared to the previous year, even without factoring in the inflation rate. It is, therefore, imperative that the government raise pension amounts for retired workers in line with the CPI,” ILNA (Iranian Labor News Agency) reported on July 14, citing Ali Asghar Bayat, the chairman of the board of directors of the Retired Workers Association.
Mr. Bayat added: “Pensioners should be able to make ends meet and live with dignity. However, many retirees apply for loans at our local offices to supplement their meager pensions, which are not nearly enough to cover their living expenses.”
Although increasing pensions in line with the inflation was part of the 5th Five-Year Development Plan (2010-2015), it was never implemented. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs controls pension funds for most retired workers. However, the government pays state and armed forces employees from a separate pension fund.
“The government has withheld nearly $52 million from the Social Security Trust Fund,” according to Ali Rastgoo, the head of Fars Province Workers’ House. “A worker is penalized if he makes a late payment on a bill, but no one holds the government accountable for not having paid into the welfare system for over 30.”
The government has given some of its near-bankrupt industrial and manufacturing plants to the SSO in lieu of hard cash. However, profits from these companies have not raised pensions for the retired workers in line with the CPI. As a result, the SSO is facing both a financial and an administrative crisis.
“A significant segment of this country’s population comprises workers and retirees who, respectively, are paying or have paid throughout the years into the Social Security Trust Fund,” a statement by the SSO’s Retired Workers Council (Basta) said. “Their contribution has enabled the SSO to accumulate significant capital that it has invested in subsidiaries of the Social Security Investment Company (Shasta). The SSO’s cash deposits belong to workers and retirees who have contributed to the Social Security Trust Fund.”
“The SSO faces a financial and administrative crisis as a result of decades of bad management, and of the government’s refusal to pay the $52 million it owes to the organization,” the statement added. “The Social Security Trust Fund belongs to workers and pensioners, but some groups and people have misappropriated the funds with complete impunity. Basta will not, however, remain silent about the corruption and misappropriation of the Social Security Trust Fund.”
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]