May 14, 2015 / 7:46 PM / 5 years ago

Russia plans detailed discussion on raising retirement age: document

An elderly woman walks through a newly built street in the village of Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, January 30, 2014. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games from February 7 to 23. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian government has for the first time said officially it will hold discussions on raising the retirement age, a step whose supporters say is vital because the country’s workforce is shrinking.

A document setting out the government’s main priorities until 2018 envisages detailed talks with experts and civil society groups about if and when the retirement age should be increased, authorities said on Thursday.

Senior officials including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov have recently expressed support for the idea.

“It is planned to hold a detailed analysis and on its basis a wide discussion involving civil society institutions, including labor unions, employers’ groups, social organizations and experts, on the expediency of raising the pension age,” the document published on the government’s official website said.

Supporters of the move say it is unavoidable due to the shrinkage of the workforce. Pushing back the retirement age would also ease pressure on the state budget, which is expected to run a big deficit this year as weak oil prices depress the export earnings.

President Vladimir Putin last month said Russia was not ready to sharply hike the retirement age but did not rule out gradually raising it.

Russian women can currently start drawing their pensions at 55 and men at 60.

Reporting by Alexander Winning and Darya Korsunskaya; editing by Andrew Roche

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