December 4, 2020

For the sustainability of the pension system



The health emergency situation has not only plunged the Spanish economy into a very severe recession, but has also caused a change in the behavior patterns of citizens towards more precautionary savings. And although the pension may seem to have taken a back seat, the debate on pensions has returned strongly to the collective imagination.

After several years of political tension in which an increase in pension spending and a fall in income from contributions have converged, this has been aggravated in recent months by the effects of the pandemic, within the Toledo Pact it has been achieved, finally, a preliminary agreement on the one to be able to build a renewed social dialogue that ends up illuminating the necessary and urgent reform of the public pension system.

One of the main recommendations of this preliminary agreement is the commitment, “by law”, to “maintain the revaluation of pensions based on the real CPI”, an issue that we should not discuss in isolation, since we will all agree on the importance of keeping in time a decent pension. However, the timeliness of the measure is debatable if it is not accompanied by aa structural reform of the system that guarantees its financing and sustainability in the long term, also the proposed revaluation. The alternative of financing the so-called “improper expenses” via state budgets is not sufficient, nor is it structural, much less does it solve the problem;

Since guaranteeing the quality of life of our elders is one of the maxims of any well-being state worth its salt, the recommendation to stimulate pension savings to complement the public pension is expressly included in the Toledo Pact from the outset. In this sense, and in the absence of knowing the technical details, we receive with expectation the statements of the minister Escrivá hinting at the possibility of creating a large employment pension fund following the British NEST model whose promoter would be the State under private management. Without However, these movements aimed at “promoting the effective implementation of employment plans” of the second pillar should never be in exchange for eliminating the fiscal stimuli of the third pillar in its accumulation phase. Both pension systems are complementary to each other and not substitutes. And it is that, if we really want to encourage pension savings, it will be essential that citizens see that effort rewarded fiscally immediately, even if only by deferring the payment of their taxes.

On the other hand, due to the collapse of the payment chain and liquidity difficulties, the self-employed have, in general terms, been the group of citizens most economically affected by the pandemic. If the appropriate measures are not taken in the reform of the system regarding individual savings, they will be punished again, since nearly three million citizens can only afford voluntary savings with fiscal stimulus through the current individual pension plans of the third pillar. Similarly, in this environment of uncertainty generated by Covid, We believe it is fair to vindicate the need to equate by law the mutual self-employed with the RETA self-employed in relation to any support measure financed from the General State Budgets.

If we want sustainable, sufficient and equitable pensions, we need robust pillars of public and complementary social security, that is why we must urge the public powers to make structural decisions as soon as possible, and this pre-agreement of the Toledo Pact «opposes any transformation radical of the system. How many generations will pay the debt that we are now generating? Is this the inheritance we want for our children? Let us be aware that what was necessary before is now urgent, but in this necessary structural and intergenerational reform that we demand, let us never lose sight of the fact that, if we increasingly live longer, either we work longer, or we charge less or save more. There are no magic formulas.


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