The Azerbaijani government has announced it will increase the minimum wage and bring state pensions in line with inflation, but critics argue living costs are rising faster.
A law raising the minimum wage from 105 to 116 manat (59 USD) was signed by President Ilham Aliyev on 21 January.
A further law was signed to ensure the insurance part of pensions will be indexed to current rates of inflation, though the basic part of the pension will remain the same.
The move was praised by Salim Muslumov, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.
“These are visual manifestations of continuing the purposeful measures towards the provision of reliable social protection of the population and increasing family incomes in the country”,
Muslumov said at a press conference
on January 24.
However, some experts have questioned the effectiveness of the new laws.
Price rises outstrip the increase in the minimum wage, said Samir Aliyev, an Azerbaijani economist,
in an interview with Meydan TV
The minimum wage should be set at 155 manat, significantly higher than the new minimum announced by the government, he said.
This would bring it in line with the “amount that a person needs for simply existing”, he added.
He also questioned the official inflation rate, saying people have been faced with much steeper increases in price than government figures suggest.
Azerbaijan’s official rate of inflation was 12.4% in 2016
, while the government said food prices rose by 14.7%.
“In reality there was a much higher increase,” said Samir Aliyev.
Qubad Ibadoglu, another Azerbaijani economist, agreed that the changes to the pension and minimum wage do not keep pace with rising prices.
It will remain impossible for retirees to cover their living costs on the pension alone, he said.
“The indexation of the insurance part of pensions is not sufficient to cover the rising costs of retirees. The basic part of pensions should have been raised too”,
he said in a statement to turan.az.