Government Welfare Programs
In 1992, President Niyazov announced "Ten Years of Prosperity,"
a government program that provides virtually free natural gas,
electricity, and drinking water to all households in the republic;
increases minimum wages and other social payments, confirms food
subsidies and price liberalizations, and aims at giving families
their own house, car, and telephone. In 1993 two-thirds of the
state budgetary expenditures went toward such "social needs,"
and half of that amount for the subsidization of food prices.
Social programs also accounted for 60 percent of the 1995 budget.
The pension system has two main types of expenditures: retirement
and disability payments and children's payments. Employees pay
1 percent of their wages to their pension fund, and the employer's
share totals 80.5 percent of the total payroll contribution. In
industries, the payroll contribution is 37 percent of the total
pension fund; in agricultural enterprises, it is 26 percent. Because
pension fund expenditures always exceed their receipts at this
ratio of contribution, additional funds are allotted from the
state budget. The normal retirement age is sixty for men and fifty-five
for women, but the age is five or ten years less for occupations
classified as hazardous. In the early 1990s, the number of pensioners
grew at a rate of 17,000 per year; in 1993 some 404,000 individuals
were in this category.
In December 1994, President Niyazov issued an edict setting
the minimum wage at 1,000 manat per month and the minimum old-age
pension at up to 1,000 manat per month. Pensions set at 60 percent
of wages will be given to men retiring at the age of sixty and
women at the age of fifty-five if they have worked for twenty-five
and twenty years, respectively. In 1995 pensions for invalids
and war veterans were set at 3,000 manat per month. Pensions are
indexed to increases in minimum wages and are funded by payroll
taxes. Allowances are granted to households with children under
age sixteen. Payments depend on the age of the children and the
economic and marital status of their parents. In 1993 such payments
ranged from 110 rubles to 270 rubles per month. That year payments
were made for about 1.75 million children. Funding is from the
general budget for children age six and older and from the pension
fund for those younger than six.
Data as of March 1996