[EDITORIALS]Keep the pension system alivePeople’s distrust in the National Pension system spreads widely. Finally, the government presented an improvement plan which includes easing forced premium collections. The government will not take action against credit delinquents and those who cannot support their daily lives, even if there are arrears in pension premiums. The government will also exempt low-income people from payments of pension premiums for certain periods of time.
The National Pension has long been the target of criticism. However, it is because of an incomplete system and lax management that the dissatisfaction grew so big as to bring discussions of its abolition. First of all, while the income levels of 72 percent of regional policyholders were not verified, they were forced to pay premiums calculated on their assumed incomes. As they were threatened with collection reminders and confiscations, their dissatisfaction grew bigger. For low-income people who suffer from prolonged economic stagnation, it can occur to them to be a luxury to pay tens of thousands of won in order to receive hundreds of thousands of won some decades from now. It is fortunate that the government recognized its mistakes, although belatedly, and decided to ease its premium collection policy.
It is irresponsible, however, to demand abolition or making the system optional. Through the Internet, rumors that the pension finances will soon be dried up and that policyholders will not even get their own contributions back circulated rampantly. In view of the precedents in 160 countries that have national pension systems, there is no such possibility. In order to overcome the crisis, the government plans to reform its structure to allow for “more premiums and less payments.” The criticism that National Pension pays only “pocket money” is not correct. It pays more than a person paid in.
South Korea is already on its way to becoming an aging society. In 2019, the ratio of people over 65 will be over 14 percent of the population. By then, the National Pension will be the main social safety net of our society. We cannot abandon it.
The government should do its best to balance the pension systems, keeping transparency in management and giving consideration to low-income people.