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Russia: Yeltsin Orders Government To Devise New Pension Plan

Moscow, 27 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin yesterday ordered the government to draft a comprehensive plan on restructuring Russia's pension system within a month.

Yeltsin, delivered the order during a meeting of his special commission on improving tax collections and increasing budget discipline. Yeltsin called the current state of pension arrears in Russia "amoral" and "catastrophic."

The Russian president put Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits and State Pension Fund Director Vasily Barchuk in charge of clearing up all pension debts by the first half of 1997. Yeltsin ordered the government to make sure companies pay their pension contributions on time and he called for bankruptcy proceedings against enterprises which do not meet their debts to the State Pension Fund.

Yeltsin also ordered the government to restore the state monopoly on the production and sale of liquor to free up funds for paying pensions. Anatoly Chubais, Yeltsin's chief of staff, told reporters that the measure would enable the state to make up a revenue shortfall of $363 million monthly.

Yeltsin vowed in a radio address yesterday to solve the problem of wage and pension arrears as well as stop the misuse of state funds. He said the delayed payments had led to living standards that were, in his words, "intolerably low."