Sergei Sobyanin showered pre-retirees with pre-election gifts

Benefits to persons of pre-retirement age will cost for the budget of Moscow in 60-80 billion rubles.
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Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who is the undisputed favorite of the upcoming September 9 presidential elections, spoke about the decision of the Moscow authorities to provide part of the regional pension benefits to those whose retirement is postponed as a result of the pension reform. He said this at a meeting with the veterans, the press service of the election headquarters of Sobyanin (RBC) said.

According to Sobyanin, the capital will provide pre-retirees (women over 55, men over 60) free travel on public transport. They will also be able to travel free of charge for suburban electric trains in the Moscow region (pensioners received this right in early August 2018). In addition, the capital's pre-retirees will retain the right to free-of-charge manufacturing and repair of dentures.

Privileges for payment of housing and communal services and a monthly cash payment from the capital authorities will receive pre-retirees with the status of "veteran of labor" or "veteran of military service."

In addition, Sobyanin announced the introduction for Muscovites over 50 years of a special program of targeted assistance, including material. In addition, they will receive the right to have an emergency dispensary. Also they are promised free development of skills and getting a new profession. To this end, no less than 50,000 seats will be created in city colleges.

Non-working Muscovites-pre-retirees will also be able to count on free-of-charge spa treatment in the direction of a doctor.

The exact terms for the introduction of these benefits were not named. The pension reform should start on January 1, 2019.

Elections of the mayor of Moscow will be held on a single day of voting on September 9. Among the candidates is Sergey Sobyanin, self-promoted, Mikhail S. Balakin, the founder of SU-155, Mikhail Degtyarev (LDPR), chairman of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs, ex-deputy of Moscow City Duma and State Duma Vadim Kumin (Communist Party of the Russian Federation ), as well as the head of Tagansky Municipality, Ilya Sviridov ("Fair Russia").

In early July, the State Duma supported in the first reading a government bill on raising the retirement age in Russia. According to the document, women will retire at 63 years instead of the current 55 years, men - at 65 instead of 60. On August 29, President Vladimir Putin announced a softening of the pension reform, reducing the proposed option for women to retire to 60 years.

Putin supplemented the reform by promising to keep privileges for real estate and land taxes (the so-called six-hundred-square-ton tax) for retirees, which pensioners do not pay. The President also said that he expects that the regional authorities will also retain local benefits in the old pension borders for the transition period.

The fact that the government and regions are considering the possibility of mitigating the pension reform by maintaining benefits within the current regulatory age of retirement (55/60 years), wrote August 15, RBC.

Moscow and Moscow responded first

Pension reform has caused a serious emotional response in society and for Sobyanin has become one of the toxic factors before the elections, political scientist Yevgeny Minchenko notes. The purpose of the statement of the mayor of the capital on preserving the benefits one week before the elections is to reduce the negative background around the reform, the expert notes. Sobyanin made his statement after the ideas incorporated in him were approved by the governing bodies of United Russia and confirmed by the president during his television address, the political scientist notes.

Sobyanin became the second head of the region, who announced the preservation of local pension benefits for pre-retirees. A few hours earlier, the governor of the Moscow Region, Andrei Vorobyev, who is going to the polls in September, said that in the sphere of support measures, 60 years for men and 55 for women will be tied to the age limit. Among the saved benefits is a discount on housing and communal services and free travel in public transport. The governor promised to make relevant amendments at the next meeting of the Moscow Regional Duma.

Moscow in positive territory

The measures proposed by Sergei Sobyanin, of course, soften the rather tough pension reform, but they are more likely to work for his election campaign, said Vladimir Klimanov, head of the department of state regulation of the economy of the Russian Academy of Science and Technology. At the same time, the budget of the capital will still be a significant plus as a result of the increase in the retirement age, he believes.

"Significantly expensive for Moscow would be the so-called city allowances to pensions (remain for the old age bar only for labor veterans). In addition, Moscow makes payments for the unemployed population to the Medical Insurance Fund - this is also a large amount. As with the reform a certain category of citizens falls out of payments, this is also a release of the budget funds, "explained Klimanov. He stressed that at this stage it is impossible to calculate all the consequences of the proposed measures. In particular, the possible increase in unemployment may lead to the need to pay additional benefits, additional expenses may also be caused by an increase in the number of people with low incomes, the expert explained.

All these measures sound like a "pre-election gift" to Muscovites and do not entail serious additional spending of budgetary funds, Yuri Gorlin, deputy director of the Institute for Social Analysis and Forecast, is sure.

For the budget of Moscow, the cost of announced benefits for pre-retirees can be about 60-80 billion rubles. per year, says Vladislav Inozemtsev, director of the Center for Post-Industrial Society Studies. For Moscow, it is quite feasible and in some ways even convenient, he notes. "Since the budget in Moscow is quite surplus and there are periodic talks about the desire of the federal center to redistribute part of the regional revenues to its advantage, the capital's government is looking for opportunities for additional costs under plausible pretexts," he says.

Business will also support the pre-retirees

August 30, the first response of the business to the proposal to participate in the support of pre-retirees. The largest Russian retailer - X5 Retail Group - announced the preservation of discounts for them. The total amount of discounts for pensioners in 2017 the company estimates at 7 billion rubles. Ten days earlier, on August 20, at a joint meeting of the Presidium of the General Council of the United Russia and the Council of Party Faction leaders, proposals for a second reading of the draft law on raising the retirement age were discussed. Among them was a proposal to maintain the existing benefits for women who have reached the age of 55 and men who have reached 60, that is, within the current age of retirement. The General Council of the party and the heads of regional branches were instructed to "discuss with socially responsible economic entities" the distribution of privileges and preferences for older people.