PSAC Fund (Full name: “Pension System Awareness Center” Fund) is a consultative body established by the Government of the Republic of Armenia which conducts pension reform awareness projects and free trainings, as well as other related consulting programs throughout the country.
The “Pension System Awareness Center” Fund was established on 28 July 2011 by the RA Government Decision № 1059-N. Establishing the Charter of the Foundation in the above-mentioned Decision, the Government stated the scope and the main directions of the Fund’s activities. Accordingly, the Fund’s objectives are:
1) Providing consulting and professional support within the framework of pension reforms, including on-line;
2) implementing Pension reforms public awareness activities, developing, publicizing and distributing information and training materials about the pension reforms and multi pillar pension system;
3) organizing seminars and workshops for specific audiences of various groups of population;
4) developing and maintaining a unified web portal of the pension system;
5) developing and implementing public education programs on pension reforms and multi pillar pension system;
6) organizing public discussions on pension reforms;
7) supporting the process of submitting personified reports by small and medium enterprises (employers), including provision of applied skills for submitting these reports and technical assistance to the employers;
8) supporting the Funded pension system participants in selecting their assets managers and pension funds (including the provision of the necessary services in the regions);
9) supporting the implementation of investment programs through Public-Private Partnership;
10) implementing research projects and scientific surveys;
11) implementing educational and training projects in educational institutions;
12) running the "Hot Line" service;
13) conducting surveys among the population;
14) monitoring and evaluating the efficiency of the implemented programs;
15) cooperation with the Government Institutions and local authorities, private and public companies, donor organizations and other interested parties for achieving the Charter objectives;
16) contributing to the Public participation of different groups of the society in the pension reforms and Public support.
Since 2011, the Fund initiated and conducted nationwide awareness campaigns, developed and published information and training materials. The Fund made every effort to create the Unified Social Portal of Armenia (www.esocial.am), which is a comprehensive source of information on all branches of the social sector in Armenia. The PSACF has closely cooperated with local and international organizations, as well as conducted Grant programs with the funds of US Agency for International Development and the World Bank, realizing numerous outreach and educational strategies.
It has established and keeps on running the social Hotline service: citizens may call the free short telephone number 114 for all types of questions, with appeals and complaints related to the Social Security, State Administrative Bodies and their local government units carrying out social service. In collaboration with the proper State Administrative Body; Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the PSAC Fund always takes the right actions which contribute to the improvement of provided service quality and the elimination of discrepancies.
Since 2013, the Government also assigned the PSAC Fund to take over the distribution of Identification Card Readers to individuals and legal entities.
There is a great demand among the population for the printed materials such as guidelines and manuals, information booklets and leaflets, posters which are developed and regularly updated by the PSAC Fund.
Assisting the Government to Implement Public Awareness Activities
The foundation of the “Pension System Awareness Center” Fund has initiated public awareness and training activities which are carried out not only from the Fund’s inner resources but also from the cooperation with different state and non-state institutions, including international organizations. Since 2011, the Foundation has assisted the RA Government in different phases of pension reforms implementation, contributing to the fluent and smooth organization of reform-related processes. Different tools of information provision have been used for the effective implementation of theses programs; outreach campaigns and trainings have been designed and realized for various target groups. The “PSAC” Publication series have come into life: they already cover dozens of outreach materials. Electronic communication means have been widely used to provide new pension system beneficiaries with the necessary information.
Cooperation with International Organizations
In the foundation year, November 2011, the “Pension System Awareness Center” Fund signed a memorandum of cooperation with USAID Pension and Labor Market Reform Project/USAID PALM which laid the foundation for effective one-year collaborative work till the end of the Project. Within the framework of the “Reform and Knowledge” Campaign, a number of remarkable projects have been carried out, among them award-winning essay writing on pension reforms by students, round-table discussions with the representatives of the banking system, accounting associations and other financial institutions, training-meetings with the state authorities, and so on.
In 2012-2013 the PSAC Fund has implemented the Grant project called “Support to the Pension Awareness and Financial Literacy project” funded by the USAID. Within the frames of the program a large-scale outreach campaign has been held which primarily aimed at organizing and conducting system awareness campaigns on Income Tax (implemented since 2013) and Personified Recordkeeping System.
The main stakeholders of the program have been accountants and employers of the country. Through different sources of information they have been presented the Unified Income Tax Calculation Form and the necessary steps for submitting personified reports in electronic format. Several hundred courses, meetings and discussions have been held with the private and public sector organizations. They have developed and published guides, have broadcast informative videos. Overall, more than 30 000 citizens; employers, accountants, financial specialists and employers have attended the outreach events held by the PSACF from October 2012 to February 2013.
Starting from January 2014, the PSAC Fund has been implementing the “Support for Pension Awareness and Improving Financial Literacy Project” Project within the framework of the Limited Grant Agreement signed between the USAID and the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
At the core of the project is the distribution of financial literacy under the funded pension system implementation, and the public awareness provision of the embedded multi pillar pension system in Armenia.
Under this program, the Fund provides free trainings in Yerevan and regions, offering informational consulting to different target groups; employees and employers, individual entrepreneurs, notaries, individuals engaged in scientific work and others.
In 2012, the PSAC Fund signed a Grant Agreement with the World Bank which aims to support the pension reforms implementation in Armenia.
The Grant consists of three components; it initiated running the Hotline service 114 and creating the Unified Social Portal of Armenia. In 2014, the Grant launched the formation of Mobile Groups of Trainers and Trainings of Trainers in order to conduct free of charge seminars throughout Armenia.
The PSAC Fund is in close partnership with the USAID Pension Reform Implementation Program/USAID PRIP. Number of public events have been organized together, information materials have been developed and published. In different phases of the projects implementation the Program largely contributes to the Fund’s HR Development.
PSAC Fund also cooperates with other international organizations such as USAID Finance for Economic Development Project, The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Association of Pension and Social funds, etc..
Annual Reporting Conferences
Starting from the year of its foundation the “Pension System Awareness Center” Fund has been holding annual pension conferences, which aim to summarize the past year’s achievements in the pension reforms implementation programs and outline future activities. Three conventions have been held since 2011; by the way, in 2012 and 2014 they were of international character, involving colleagues from International Authoritative Organizations and Social Security System of the EON and CIS countries.
Each year hundreds of guests attend the Pension Conferences; invitees from the Official Government System, Public sector, International Organizations, the Media. These conventions significantly contribute to highlight the pension reforms subject.
Hotline Service: 114
Since 2011, the short phone number 114 has been working as the Hotline of the Social Security Service of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. From the very start the telephone service has provided information on PAYG pension system, on temporary disability benefits, as well as funded pension system implementation. Since the last quarter of 2012, the role of this telephone service has vitally increased as it became a complete source of information on the processes related to the introduction of Income Tax and Funded Pension System.
The Hotline service quickly gained nationwide popularity. Citizens, employers and financial specialists turn to the service with various social-related questions and get the answers within the shortest possible time. The Hotline Service also applies the Feedback principle, i.e. verifying answers from the authorized institutions, if necessary.
Unified Social Portal of the Republic of Armenia
Starting from 2013, the PSACF has developed and maintained the Unified Social Portal of the Republic of Armenia, which is a comprehensive source of information on all branches of the social sphere of the country, provided social services and the news that are going on within the system.
Initially, the website www.epension.am was named Unified Pension Portal and aimed to provide population with daily information on pension reforms and funded pillar implementation in Armenia. At the final stage of designing the portal it was renamed “Unified Social Portal of the Republic of Armenia”. It gives an opportunity to get the latest news of the field, read relevant literature, including dictionaries. In addition, the Unified Social Portal offers its users an integrated electronic platform for submitting applications and requests. Personal pension accounts’ system of funded pension participants is also integrated into the Unified Portal.
The window “My Account” gives participants the opportunity to access their personal accounts anytime and anywhere, obtain information on their accumulated pension funds, income on the return of managing these funds, to select and switch to another pension fund and the fund manager.
Distribution of ID Card Readers
Starting from January 1, 2013 within the framework of increasing public awareness of the newly introduced Income Tax and Personified Recordkeeping System in Armenia, the RA Government has instructed the PSAC Fund to conduct the distribution of ID Card Readers to individuals and legal entities.
Participants are required to have an Identification Card and a Card Reader in order to submit their repots electronically, as well as to verify their personal pension accounts and to sign documents in electronic way.
The process of supplying employers with the first batch of devices imported by the Government of the Republic of Armenia has been regulated by the RA Government Decision № 31-N made on January 16, 2013. 20 000 devices have been transferred to the Fund, and the procedure and the list of necessary documents of how to obtain them have been respectively defined.
After the consumption of the first batch of devices, new ones have been imported and supplied to employers by the RA Government Decision № 517-N made on 16 May 2013. Since October, 2013 The PSAC Fund has provided ID Card Readers to individuals as well in the procedure defined by the RA Government Decision № 1152-N made on 23 October 2013.
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