Two bread rolls more for Bulgarian pensioners

Photo: BGNES

The Book of Proverbs in the Bible reads that “Whoever robs their father or mother and says, ‘It's not wrong,’ is partner to one who destroys.” The Bulgarian government has decided to raise the living standard of Bulgarian retirees who have been living in misery for years. Together with the minimum wage, pensions of Bulgarians were updated too, according to the so called ‘Swiss formula’ – rise is based on 50 percent of wage growth and 50 percent of the consumer price index. Actually this means 1.9 percent. This way the lowest pension in Bulgaria when necessary age and years of work are reached “jumped” from 78.99 euro to 80.50 euro a month. The social pension given for old age reached 58.88 euro a month. The upper limit of pensions became 465 euro. We should mention that the poverty threshold in this country is 146 euro a month.

It is not necessary to be a mathematical genius to see that the rise of pensions in Bulgaria would allow retirees to buy not more than two bread rolls. What do pensioners think about the rise. We asked a woman in the street about the rise of her pension.

“I am not happy at all. What can I buy for a hike of 1.5 euro a month - a few hundreds grams of cheese. I have worked for 30 years but I have a small pension. I am alone and I cannot even pay for my medicines. I am deprived of a number of things.”

Another pensioner is indignant with the rise and tells us about the way she manages to make ends meet.

“I can hardly say this is a rise. This is a mockery. I get 80 euro a month and I have worked for 34 years. I never worked for the minimal wage. I hardly manage. I get up at 5am and go to work as a janitor to get additional 50 euro a month that I use to buy medicines. I have to deprive myself from so many things it is difficult to count them.”

This woman blames the government of Ivan Kostov for the small pensions. During this government re-denomination took place in 1999. The Bulgarian lev was substituted by a new lev in a ratio of 1,000:1. All this took place after hyperinflation during the previous government in 1997. “It was plain robbery but now politicians say they were honest. Today they live in palaces and we live in small flats,” the pensioner says.

Ex-premier Kostov is hardly the only one to blame for the guilt of all Bulgarian politicians no matter the party. The transition to democracy is not the only factor to blame either. What is the current situation in Russia that was in the same space as Bulgaria before the political changes. In Russia the minimum pension that is tied to the poverty threshold is 8,311 roubles, or 134 euro. Comparing the situation in Bulgaria to that in the western countries is just too painful and we are not going to do this. It turns out that instead of enjoying the life of a retired person, the Bulgarian pensioners suffer deprivations and try hard to pay their electricity and heating bills, because they are disciplined and know one should pay for what they use. After that they wonder how to use the few euro left of their pensions to buy medicines, bread, and others. Pensioners are some of those who bear the heavy burden of the mistakes made by politicians, who once again claim they have improved the living standard of the most vulnerable part of the population.

English: Alexander Markov

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