[EDITORIALS]Fix the pension programThe government and the ruling Uri Party agreed to lower the amount of money national pension program holders receive, while keeping the insurance fee at 9 percent of their incomes. Those in the national pension programs are supposed to receive 60 percent of their average incomes, according to when they paid their taxes. With this new agreement, however, a holder will receive 50 percent of his or her average income.
Under the current national pension program, holders pay a small amount of fees and receive a lot of money after retirement. If the program is not changed, it will run out of money by 2047; holders would then have to pay 30 percent of their incomes. Thus an agreement was made to reform the programs so that the fees would increase to 15.9 percent, and the fees would still drop to 50 percent.
If that deal had been set, the money would have dried up some time after 2070. The agreement between the administration and the ruling party, however, will only keep the pool wet for another five years or so. This measure will help little in resolving the financial instability of the pension programs.
In the meantime, an agreement was made to give from 70,000 won ($75) to 100,000 won monthly to 60 percent of the elderly citizens. Senior citizens who have not prepared enough for their retirement certainly need this money.
However, the precondition for this plan is a stabilized pension program. Higher payments are required to stabilize the program. It makes no sense to avoid greater payments while planning to give greater allowances. In 2004, the Uri Party presented a revised plan in which insurance fees would not be increased. This revision was initiated by Rhyu Si-min, the incumbent health and welfare minister.
In June, Mr. Rhyu presented an adjusted plan to increase insurance fees to 12.9 percent and tried to persuade people about the importance and urgency of pension reform. However, he faced opposition from his own party and agreed on an inappropriate plan. He seems to have forgotten why he was appointed to that position.
To believe that to not increase insurance fees for the time being will help the party gain more votes is to believe in an illusion. Who would vote for a person who cares only about his or her interests and does not care about the future of the country? The administration and the ruling party must push ahead for a decent reform plan.
The voters will know what to do.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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