Gov’t nixes pension reform for soldiers, teachers

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Gov’t nixes pension reform for soldiers, teachers

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance on Tuesday reversed a decision to overhaul the pension systems for veterans and private school teachers by the end of 2015, just a day after it announced the plan.

“We are not considering reforming the pension systems for soldiers and private school teachers,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Even though the reference we distributed earlier to the press about the direction of economic policies in 2015 showed a schedule for the reform, it wasn’t based on the government’s determined stance.”

In the policy statement released by the ministry Monday, it said it would make an effort to “legislate reform plans for pensions for public workers” as soon as possible and come up with blueprints for revising the pension plan for soldiers in June and for private school teachers in October.

The deputy finance minister, Jeong Eun-bo, admitted the ministry made a mistake when he met with reporters on Tuesday.

“We accidentally included the part [about reforming the pension systems for soldiers and private school teachers] in the reference without a sufficient level of discussion among officials at related ministries and government institutions,” he said.

“We are not thinking about overhauling them, given the pension for soldiers has a special significance and the pension for private school teachers does not have a huge problem when it comes to managing its funding.”

The government, according to analysts, seems to have yielded to criticism that it has already caused too much controversy over a plan to overhaul the pension system for government workers, which uses taxpayer money to keep it afloat.

On Monday, the government announced its economic policy direction for the coming year, which it described as a “golden time” for the Korean economy to build a new foundation for long-term growth.

The main goals were to reform the labor market, public pension systems, the education system and financial markets.

The governing Saenuri Party instantly lambasted the government’s announcement, dubbing it as “incompetence.”

“We have been trying every day not to allow the embers of the plan to overhaul the pension system for public workers to die,” said Kim Moo-sung, chairman of the party.

“How could the government make a decision on the pension systems for veterans and private school teachers on its own without discussing it with us [lawmakers]?

“It’s just preposterous,” he added. “I looked into what happened and I got the answer that it was the mistake of the government officials. If they realized they got it wrong, then they should have visited each and every media outlet last night to prevent the articles from being published. The stories have made all the front pages.”

Meanwhile, the ruling and opposition parties agreed Tuesday they will vote on the public servants’ pension reform plan as late as May 2.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]


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