Ombudsman warns government about low pensions in Latvia

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Ombudsman Juris Jansons has sent a pre-trial warning to the government regarding the protection of the rights of people most at risk of poverty. The Ombudsman noted that the minimum old-age pension, which ranges from €70.43 to €108.85 per month, is catastrophically low and does not provide for basic needs such as food, clothing, housing and health care, reported on August 5.

It was also remarked that differentiating the minimum pension according to seniority is unfair to people who led longer working lives. According to Article 109 of the Constitution, “Everyone has the right to social security in old age, for work disability, for unemployment and in other cases as provided by law.”

“The legislation stipulates that the minimum pension be linked to state social security benefits, which are in themselves inadequate. They currently make up €64.03 per month. The minimum pension is calculated taking into account specific factors, but whatever the factors, it is extremely small, making it impossible for people to survive on it. […] It is the responsibility of the state to identify actual needs and, accordingly, to define the appropriate social care system, including the minimum retirement pension. In his letter, the Ombudsman also stated ironically that, according to the World Bank, absolute poverty in 2015 [in Latvia] was €1.67 per day. What some of our people are receiving now is only about half a euro more per day. Does the state truly believe that this state of affairs is humane?” said Ruta Siliņa, a spokeswoman for the Ombudsman’s Office.

If the government does not eliminate the system’s shortcomings by October 1, the Ombudsman will turn to the Constitutional court. Currently, 64 000 people or 14.3% of all recipients of the state old-age pension in Latvia receive the minimum pension. 7368 people out of these 14.3% have a disability.

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