On Tuesday, the Supervisory Board of the National Social Security Institute (NSSI) adopted government-sponsored changes to the Social Insurance Code, said Labour and Social Policy Minister Totyu Mladenov after the board's meeting, speaking to journalists.
Under the changes to the Social Insurance Code, from 2011 the social insurance contributions of categorized workers (working in adverse conditions) will be accrued in a newly established solidarity fund for early retirement under the NSSI.
From 2015, the retirement age for categorized workers will start to increase by six months every year.
Women in first category labour will retire at 55 and men at 58, while women working under second category labour conditions will retire at 60 and men at 62.
From 2015, the universal contributory service will start to increase by four months annually, reaching 37 years for women and 40 years for men by 2024.
The leaders of the two most influential trade unions, Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria and Podkrepa Labour Confederation, said that categorized workers who take early retirement will have their pensions reduced by 0.15 per cent for every month under the fixed retirement age. Accordingly, they will have their pensions increased by the same percentage for every month of work above the requisite age.
Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIB) Executive Director Evgenii Ivanov said there were developments on the establishment of a solidarity fund under the NSSI for the early retirement of categorized workers. "The nationalization may not take place after all," he added. In his words, no one has spoken to those who have individual accounts with the occupational funds. "No one has agreed to the theft of their personal account," said Ivanov. "People have a private contract and there should be no intermediaries to decide what should be done with the accounts."
According to the Bulgarian Association of Supplementary Pension Security Companies (BASPSC), categorized workers should retire under the existing conditions for another three years and should be entitled to pensions from both the NSSI and the occupational funds.
The Association gave a news conference Tuesday after a meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Daniela Petkova, CEO of Doverie Pension Assurance Company and member of the Association's Board of Directors, said that they called on the Prime Minister to understand the workers' point of view and keep in place the existing retirement conditions and the occupational funds.
The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) does not approve the budgets of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the NSSI and will abstain during the vote on the 2011 Budget Bill, said UDF leader Martin Dimitrov at a news conference on Tuesday.
In a statement, the UDF criticized harshly the government's plans to nationalize the occupational funds. According to the UDF, the cabinet has drawn another line between itself and the democracy-minded people of the right in Bulgaria.
The UDF called on the prime minister and the GERB leadership to cancel their plans to nationalize the occupational funds.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) will not back the 2011 budgets of the NHIF and the NSSI, the party said. In view of the economic slowdown, the MRF objects to raising the social security contributions by 1.8 per cent and the minimum insurance thresholds by 5.6 per cent, which would mainly affect small and medium sized businesses.