Latvian ombudsman warns govt of extremely low pensions
Written by Sunniva Kolostyak
The pensions ombudsman in Latvia has sent a pre-trial warning to the government, saying old-age pensions are “impossible for people to survive on”.
The Latvian newspaper LSM.lv said the ombudsman Juris Jansons noted that the minimum old-age pension ranges from €70.43 to €108.85 per month, a “catastrophically” low payment which does not provide needs such as food, clothing, housing and health care.
The warning also commented that differentiating the minimum pension according to seniority is unfair to people who have had even longer working lives, saying that according to the constitution, “everyone has the right to social security in old age, for work disability, for unemployment and in other cases as provided by law”.
Commenting on the warning, the ombudsman’s office’s spokeswoman Ruta Siliņa said the legislation stipulates that the minimum pension should be linked to state social security benefits, which are already inadequate at €64.03 per month.
“The minimum pension is calculated taking into account specific factors, but whatever the factors, it is extremely small, making it impossible for people to survive on it. […] It is the responsibility of the state to identify actual needs and, accordingly, to define the appropriate social care system, including the minimum retirement pension,” Siliņa said.
The ombudsman also stated in his letter that the World Bank said absolute poverty in Latvia in 2015 was €1.67 per day, and that minimum pension is only about half a Euro more.
“Does the state truly believe that this state of affairs is humane?” Siliņa said.
If the government does not eliminate the system’s shortcomings by 1 October 2019, the ombudsman will turn to the Constitutional court, LSM.lv said. Currently, 64,000 people, or 14.3 per cent of all recipients of the state old-age pension in Latvia, receive the minimum pension. Of these, 7,368 people have a disability.