Russian first deputy premier Anatoly Chubais announced yesterday that the Russian government has released the funding necessary to Russia’s regions to enable them to pay off all outstanding state pension arrears. Banks will be open this weekend so that pensioners can collect their money. "By July 1, not a single ruble will be owed to a single pensioner," Chubais said. (Itar-Tass, June 26) The government’s failure to pay pensions has caused enormous hardship, not only for the elderly but also for other family members whom pensioners helped to survive when wage payments dried up. The government has also promised to pay off wage arrears, but not until the end of this year. The government has been able to pay off the pension debt because it has won its long battle to force the gas giant, Gazprom, and other corporate laggards to pay long overdue federal taxes, and also thanks to a massive loan from the World Bank. Earlier this month, the World Bank released a $600 million structural adjustment loan to Russia, and has promised more money to help support social reforms including the creation of an efficient pension system. (Financial Times, June 27)
Russian Pressing Ahead with Utilities Reform.