[EDITORIALS]Real pension reform nowWhile the government has proposed to the National Assembly revising the current national pension system of “pay less and receive more,” the Uri Party has presented a proposal of its own. The government’s proposal aims to raise the pension premium and lower the payment rate. The Uri Party announced a plan Saturday to lower the payment rate from 60 percent to 50 percent and to keep the premium rate at the present level of 9 percent. If the pension reform becomes a half-reform under the Uri Party’s proposal, it would merely delay the bankruptcy of the pension fund for a few years from the expected default in 2047. This would not achieve the goal of stabilizing the rocky pension finances.
Our country is undergoing an unprecedented aging of society and low birthrate. We are facing a structural crisis where the population of those who can claim a pension is rising sharply and the number of working people who can pay the premium is shrinking. That is why the task of changing the system to a “pay more, receive less” structure has become a national task that cannot be put off. If we fail to reform the system, future generations will experience a “pension catastrophe” when they collectively despair of not being able to bear the burden of the premiums. The minister of health has even said that it is “immoral to not change the national pension law” and that “it is unfair, but the younger generation must carry the burden.”
The experts all agree it is wrong of the governing party to try to obstruct the pension reforms that the government is pursuing with grim determination. No matter how the Uri Party presents its proposal, it is obvious to everyone that its real intention is political and that it does not want to lose votes from the present generations. It is resorting to a shallow and cheap form of populism in turning a blind eye to the suffering of the future generation in order to draw the present-day voters.
The Uri Party should not commit the folly of ruining the long-term future of the country for partisan reasons and lend its support to the government’s proposal. It is an unpopular policy as it is, and if the governing party sticks with it, how could the opposition legislators be persuaded to support it? Remember the cases of Japan and France when the parties willingly stomached political costs to pursue pension reforms. The Uri Party should abandon any thought of putting off reform until the next administration.