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Russia to adjust pensions, welfare payments for inflation

NOVO-OGAREVO, February 7 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government should adjust pensions and welfare payments if inflation is greater than budgeted, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.

"We understand that in real life inflation this year could be above the level we put in the budget. Then, in order for us to meet the declared goals, it would be necessary to increase the basic pension by more than 26.5%," Putin said.

Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova said at a meeting with Putin that the basic pension could if necessary be increased by 30% from December 1, 2009, rather than the budgeted 26.5% rise.

From March 1, the basic pension is due to increase by 8.7%.

Putin also said that welfare payments should also be linked to inflation.

"We absolutely have to honor welfare and one-off payments. They are dependent on inflation, and if inflation is higher than budgeted, then we should reconsider them as well," he said. "I ask that with this in mind changes be made in due time."

Putin also asked Golikova to check that unemployment benefits were only going to genuine claimants.

Golikova's deputy Maxim Topilin said on Thursday that the total number of people out of work in Russia could reach 7 million by the end of the year.

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