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Older Azerbaijanis are struggling to live on elderly pension


The average pension in Azerbaijan of 150 manat ($US190), doesn’t cover  monthly expenses. Latifa Aliyeva, 71, and her husband get a monthly pension of 325 manat ($US410) and even that amount doesn’t cover their expenses.

Aliyeva moved from Agsu to Baku seven years ago with her husband, Alidadash Aliyev. Now they live together in their own home. She gets 145 manat ($US180), and her husband gets 180 manat ($US230). Each month they pay 30 manat ($US38) for gas and 20 manat ($US26) for electricity. She says they spend 150-200 manat ($US192-256) on food.  Sometimes there is no money to buy medicine. “If we get ill, we don’t have money to buy drugs,” she said.  “And we also need to buy clothes. Step by step, money is spent.”

Aliyeva worked as a cleaner at a school, but her job did not qualify as one that would increase spent her pension. That’s why her pension is low. Her husband worked on a collective farm during the Soviet Union period,then as a guard at a school. His pension is higher than his wife’s because he worked more years.

They have three children who donot live with their parents, but do support them financially.

Natig Jafarli,The executive secretary of the NGO “REAL”,said: There are 1.3 million pensioners in Azerbaijan. About 900,000 of them get the minimum amount. According to official figures pensioners spent about 55 percent on food. There are no private pension funds; only the government pays pensions.

According to Jafarli, in 2001 a new allowed the establishment of alternative commercial pension funds with foreign investment. But in reality the monopoly remained and nobody new entered the market.

Jafarli said that pensions are divided into parts – regular pension and health pension. But health pension covers only small payments for examinations, and does not pay for expensive items like medicine and hospital stay.

Javadli noted that Bulgaria, considered the poorest country in the European Union, has food prices two to three times lower than Azerbaijan. He said few people in Bulgaria get the minimum pension of 190 euro ($US262), and that most get 300 euro ($US414).

Low pensions are especially a problem in Baku, a city where living expenses are very high. Many old people could not live in Baku without aid from their relatives and children.

According to Javadli, “today there is the potential to double pensions. But then there is the effect of inflation. Prices must be reduced so pensions can pay for more.”

According to official statistics from the State Social Protection Fund, of Azerbaijan Republic that there were 800,500 pensioners in Azerbaijan on Jaunary 1, 2013. In 2006 there were 779,500 pensioners. (Jafarli says the figures should be higher). 

According to the laws of Azerbaijan the annual cost of living figure is calculated by The Ministry of Finance every year.  Inflation and government revenues are taken into account. Pensions are increased by Presidential order, according to paragraph 32 of Article 109 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan and Article 29 of the law on pensions.