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Yerevan hosts third annual pension conference

On February 21, 2014, the Pension System Awareness Center Foundation, under the leadership of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia and with support from the USAID-funded Pension Reform Implementation Program and the Finance for Economic Development Program,hosted the Third Annual Pension Conference titled “New Pension System: Opportunities, Challenges and Expectations.”

Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan, Minister of Labor and Social AffairsArtem Asatryan, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John A. Heffern, USAID/Armenia Mission Director Karen Hilliard,and members of the Pension Reforms Management Board attended the event. Participants also included high level officials from the Government and international organizations, representatives of the National Assembly andthe Central Bank of Armenia, heads of several commercial banks, managers of other financial institutionsincluding insurance, loan, and investment companies, actuaries, representatives of business associations, political parties, as well as local and international organizations involved in the pension reform.

The Third Annual Pension Conference provided an overview of the past tenyears of work that laid the foundation for the introduction of the multi-pillar pension system in Armenia. The event focusedon the results and challenges that have emerged over the last three years since the adoption of the new pension legislation.

In his opening remarks,Prime Minister Sargsyanshared the primary motivations behind the introduction of the new pension system. He discussed its necessity and inevitability in view of the socio-economic developments of recentdecades and its painful reception by the generation that had to carry the burden ofthefirst wave of the reform, resulting in behavioral and cultural changes.

Ambassador Heffern spoke about the challenges and perspectives of introducing the funded pension systems and noted that the U.S. Government was ready to provide continuous support to these efforts. He emphasized the need for public education and awareness initiatives on behalf of the Armenian government to provide detailed and clear explanations about the reform to all citizens of Armenia.

Representatives ofthe Central Bank of Armenia and the Ministry of Finance made presentations at the conference, speaking about the practical and operational components of the reform, including guarantees of fund security, legal limitations, and levers for state supervision.

Recently licensed asset managers “AMUNDI-AGBA” and “C-Quadrat AMPEGA” also had the opportunity to present their packages and policies to the conference attendees.

“Pension reform is one of the more challenging reforms that any country faces. This is why Armenia has engaged international experts and spent more than ten years carefully selecting and developing a new pension system, tailored to Armenia’s demographic and economic needs,” US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern said.

“We believe that the new pension system is prudently designed to protect the interests of future pensioners. It will provide Armenian workers with the opportunity to improve their financial security in retirement by diversifying their sources of income, including saving for retirement in a private– private —  pension fund,” he added.

The Ambassador expressed the continued support for the successful implementation of this pension reform and the belief that the Government of Armenia, employers and workers will be able to implement these reforms for the long term benefit of all.

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