Home |  Elder Rights |  Health |  Pension Watch |  Rural Aging |  Armed Conflict |  Aging Watch at the UN  


Mission  |  Contact Us  |  Internships  |    

Back to current articles










1995 - 2001



Pension Issues around the World 


Archive January-December 2005

Articles in Arabic | Chinese | French | Russian | Spanish

Also see our section on Social Pensions and  US Pension Issues


South Africa: Bullets Fly at Pension Pay Point (December 14, 2005)
On the morning of December 14th, six gunmen started shooting as soon as security officers handed over the pension money to the All Pay officers. Two robbers grabbed several trunks of checks before fleeing in their vehicles. During the shooting, a 61-year old woman was injured. Officers worry about the risk that pensioners face as they come to claim their monthly pension checks. One robber was caught and arrested while the others fled on foot after their vehicles came to a stop. A manhunt for these men is underway. All pensioners unable to receive their checks due to the incident will receive replacement checks.

Mali: Social Security Budget Increases With the Number of Pensioners (December 2, 2005)

(Article in French)
The budget for Social Security in Mali is increasing at a 2% rate in 2006 to match the increasing number of pensioners. The directors of the Social Security Fund have also decided to continue improving the pension system by converting to computerization.

Africa: Be Wary of the Generation Trap (November 21, 2005)
Middle aged adults in their 50’s are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” because they are stuck between their elderly parents and their not yet fully dependent children. It is difficult for them emotionally and financially. While adults have made efforts for their own retirement, many find that their pension is not sufficient. But recent research shows that this “investment-repayment cycle” is well worth it. Financially supporting your children through their educational process has proved to be more advantageous than any type of savings or investment. Caring for aged parents is also admirable also. One just needs to know where to set the boundaries for the children and aged parents so as not to jeopardize one’s own retirement. 

South Africa: Special Pensions Bill Passed (November 11, 2005)
The South African National Assembly recently approved a law that expands pension and survivor benefits to those who worked in previously restricted political organizations. The Special Pensions Amendment Bill builds upon the original legislation passed in 1996 that provided lump sum benefits to individuals and their dependents who were previously prohibited from participating in a traditional pension scheme due to working full time in a banned political organization. The Amendment Bill aims to create further benefit equity between those who had the ability to pay into pensions and those who were barred from doing so because of their previously controversial work situation. 

Uganda: NIC Furious Over Shs14b Makerere Pension Scheme (November 8, 2005)

Current and future retirees from a Ugandan university stand to lose their pension and life insurance benefits. Makerere University officials say they will terminate the pension and life insurance benefits because of controversy surrounding the plans and a possible inability to pay 10% interest on employee-paid premiums. 

Congo-Brazzaville: French Retirees Ignored by the Congo State (November 5, 2005)
(Article in French) 
A group of ten French retirees who worked in Congo for several years and paid into the Congo’s national pension fund have never received any pension payment from the government. The group is going to start a judicial procedure to claim about 1,579 thousand euros in unpaid pensions. 

The Republic of the Congo: Every Fifth Pensioner in the Republic of Congo is a Cheater (October 26, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Zhilber Ondongo, the minister of labor in the Republic of Congo, reports that about 11 thousand people illegally received pensions in two pension funds simultaneously. After the national census, officials spotted this situation. Upon the demands of International Monetary Fund and other donors, the local government is trying to take the control of the central budget spending in the country.

Botswana: The Breakdown of Social Support Systems (October 19, 2005) 
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has required many grandparents to take over the task of raising children orphaned by the disease. A recent study by UNICEF shows that 34% of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Botswana live with grandparents, even when one parent is alive. It is common for grandparents to use their limited pension resources to support several family members. Botswana experts believe it is necessary to increase access to financial and social support to grandparents throughout the region who face the mounting challenges of raising children today. 

Ethiopia: Pensions of Former State Employees Doubled, Move Widely Welcomed (October 3, 2005)
The government of Ethiopia has decided to double the state pension so that former government employees can meet the rising cost of living. International Aid Organization says that this new law only benefits those people who have been working all their lives and have money. What about the elderly that live in the rural areas who have not worked, have no money, are sick, and have the responsibility to take care of grandchildren? The head of HelpAge International Peter Bofin proposed giving cash to the elderly poor instead of food, so that they might invest in something (like an ox) to work, make a living and hence find ways to feed the grandchildren that they care for.

Angola: African Investment Bank Unveils Workers Pension Fund (August 11, 2005)
Employees of the African Investment Bank will now have a defined benefit pension package provided for them by their employers. The new pension plan will include death benefits, early retirement benefits and 90 percent coverage of the retiree’s work salary. Pensions plans such as this one, protect workers and their families from poverty in retirement and gives retirees the means to a decent living in retirement. 

South Africa: Long Wait for Pension Funds to Get Their Surplus Payouts in Order (August 11, 2005)
There is currently 80 billion rands in surplus money in South Africa . The money comes from forgotten bank accounts and unclaimed insurance policies, among other places. If the beneficiaries of the money are not found, the money will eventually go to the state. Companies seeking to avoid the huge financial burden of dividing their surplus are attempting to claim that they do not fall under the Pension Fund Act. Are companies and the government trying hard enough to find the beneficiaries, or are they waiting for the money to fall into their laps?

Ghana: Don’t Use Pension Benefits on Lotto and Alcohol (August 3, 2005)
Educator Stephen Opuni, headteacher of Kwanwoma Presbyterian Primary School and chairman of the Bosomtwe-Atwima-Kwanwoma Association of Heads of Basic Schools, has argued that pensioners should not invest their pension in alcohol and the lottery, which has become a common practice that leads to old-age poverty. Instead he suggests that pensioners invest in their children’s education and other things that produce gains high in intrinsic value. A head teacher in the Bosomtwe-Atwima-Kwanwoma District of Ashanti, for example, can receive a 1 million cedi pension benefit package, the equivalent to 109 American dollars, upon retirement.

Nigeria: We’re Being Starved to Death, Pensioners Cry Out (July 16, 2005) 
Nigerian pensioners are dying of hunger because they are not receiving their monthly pensions. There have even been stories of the elderly risking their health while waiting on lines to verify documents to receive their pensions – pensions that sometimes never come! Senior citizens often linger around pension offices, carrying the “burden of poverty with pains and agonies.” Whatever happened to the motto “Rest is Sweet After Labor”?

Tanzania: Bank Seeking Reforms in Tanzania Pension Funds (July 4, 2005)
Tanzanian pension funds may soon undergo changes. Pension reforms seek to stop gambling with workers’ money on risky and specialized investments. There have also been accusations that Tanzania ’s pension agencies have loaned workers' pension funds to well-heeled businessmen and political parties. Compounding the problem is the fact that there are no regulatory agencies to oversee Tanzania ’s pensions, leading to disorganization, confusion, and deception. Tanzanian citizens need and deserve a pension plan that they can trust, and pension reform can help.

South Africa: Apla, MK Veterans Set to Get Special Pensions (July 4, 2005) 
The Special Pension Act will be amended to ensure that it covers all veterans and that the age limit for qualification will be lowered. Currently, only liberation struggle veterans who were over 35 in 1996 are eligible to receive the grant in terms of the Special Pension Act of 1996. But some of those who were under the age of 35, have grown older now and should qualify to receive the grant, said the Veterans Foundation chairman Papi Kubu. Most veterans were unskilled and unemployed at that time and having a source of income would help their families considerably. "It was also unfair to have some veterans receiving the money while some were not," stressed the chairman of the Veterans Foundation.

Nigeria: Increase Our Pension By 142 Percent (June 30, 2005)
Hundreds of pensioners protested at the secretariat in Ibadan to claim pension payments promised to them by the federal government. The federal government, however, has pledged pensioners money that has not been backed by actual funds. Despite the lack of funds, the government has pledged to meet the protestors
' demands in due time. The Ministry of Finance is currently working out the details.

Africa: AU Eyes Pension Funds for Infrastructure Development (June 21, 2005)
The Chairman of the African Union has called on African leaders to support a plan to use “dormant” pension funds for Africa ’s infrastructural development. He argues that Africa needs to raise funds from various sources to help build the Pan African infrastructural fund. While the intentions for this plan are noble, the means are not. Taking supposedly “dormant” pensions funds could put elder people across the African continent in jeopardy. What if the investments are lost? What if governments change? What are the guarantees that the governments will produce the interest and principal for the retirement monies when African seniors need those pension funds? Is it appropriate to gamble on the future of seniors’ income—or leave them destitute— in the name of rebuilding Africa ? Rebuilding for whom? On the backs of whom?

East Africa, Nairobi: Workers' Savings Not Secure, Yet (June 15, 2005)
Who will protect East African pensioners and retirees? According to the author, pension corruption and abuse characterizes Uganda , Tanzania and Kenya . The "heads” in the three countries treat the state-run pension funds like their personal bank. In Uganda , the Office of the Inspector of Government, the equivalent of Kenya ’s Anti-Corruption Commission has launched an investigation into the circumstances under which the Vice-President, acquired a house belonging to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). In Tanzania , the Parastatal Pensions Fund (PPF) has been made to operate more or less as a venture capital company. Incidentally, all the three East African countries have a National Social Security Fund (NSSF). But Uganda and Tanzania would still appear to be at the stage Kenya was during the Nyayo era. In that period, government leaders manipulated the NSSF to buy irregularly acquired public land from politically well-connected individuals at inflated prices. 

Zambia: Retirees and Retrenches Will be Paid, a Relief to Many (June 10, 2005)

The time has come for Government and the Pensions Insurance Authority (PIA) to review the entire social security scheme in Zambia . The announcement that retirees and retrenched persons will be paid before the end of the year relieves elderly, some of whom have waited for years to get hard earned pensions. Hopefully the payment of retirees and retrenched will bring to an end the long years of misery that now mark life after leaving employment. The Zambian pensioners hope that the decision to pay off outstanding dues before the end of the year will begin to end the suffering for the workers who have served the country. Being retired is synonymous with isolation and destitution as it takes years before terminal benefits are paid.  

Nigeria: The Pension Reform Act 2004: The Need for Amendment (January 21, 2005)
Pension and gratuity payments to pensioners in Nigeria, especially those in the public service, has become a contentious issue to the government and its workforce. The author says that the Pension Reform Act 2004 did not involve workers' input and gives far too much power to the government. Presently, less than 5% of the workers know even a few important details of this Act that was claimed to respond to all Nigerian citizens' needs. The author exposes many unfair sections of the new law.

Ghana: Pension Goes Up (January 6, 2005) 
The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has increased pension payments: "The minimum monthly pension for new pensioners joining the pension roll from January 2005 is now ¢125,000," said the Public Affairs Director of SSNIT, Mr Kweku Osei-Bimpong. But some pensioners are not satisfied, saying that it's necessary to break the monopoly of the SSNIT: they want a "realistic pension." Apparently Ghanaian employers regularly under-report salaries to the government to avoid paying higher pensions. Not a good situation!

Return to Top of Page

Americas & Caribbean

Trinidad & Tobago: Illiterate Granny Must Repay $10,000 (December 19, 2005)  
A 70 year old women in Trinidad and Tobago started receiving two pension checks a month last February. The old woman, who can neither read nor write, thought this double check came because the government had increased the pension. In December the Social Service Division urged her to return the $ 10,000. Unable to pay the entire sum, she offered to re-pay little by little each month. Interestingly, the investigating officers wanted her to repay the funds in cash to them.  Now that the Social Service Division is alerted, it says it will take her $1,000 per month pension and leave her with only $50 to survive.  Surely there is a better way.

Chile: Chile’s Private Pension Plan System Fails to Protect Elderly (November 30, 2005)
The presidential candidates for the upcoming election agree that the privatization program adopted 25 years ago has produced average payments to retirees that are far below the amount necessary to financially support them. In short, it failed. They also question why the average pension has not increased while the average contributions have increased. The candidates want to examine how much profit the fund managers are making. A former deputy of the Christian Democratic (DC) Party, Sergio Férnandez Aguayo states, “the changes to the current system that the government is pretending to introduce will not benefit the interest of Chilean workers… it would seem that the system is trying to fortify private economic concentration instead of creating dynamic social benefits.”

Trinidad and Tobago: Pension Fraud Unlikely at Banks, Says Howai (November 30, 2005)

Pension fraud allegations run rampant in Trinidad and Tobago. Government officials were shocked to learn that people were cashing pension checks who were not the true recipients of the benefit. The president of the Trinidad and Tobago Banker’s Association says he will encourage a full investigation of the fraud allegations

Bermuda: Majority of Seniors Living in Poverty (November 29, 2005)
The number of people over the age of 65 is rapidly increasing. The Department of Statistics found that majority of elderly live on $36,000 a year which would classify them in the poor category. About one third of them rely on government pension which is their main source of income. The main concern is that although most senior citizen’s medical bills are covered by health insurance the working population will still be affected by the increased medical expenses as a result of longer life expectancies. The Department states that the island is in need of more “purpose-built facilities with trained staff to care for the aged.”

The Bahamas: Can Pension Reform Save Our Retirement Savings? (November 8, 2005)
Officials in The Bahamas debate pension reform by weighing the costs of defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans. Experts recognize the positive economic impact that strong pension earnings have on older persons during their retirement years as well as the residual effect on increased consumer spending. 

El Salvador: World Bank Approves $21 Million for Social Protection (October 27, 2005)
The World Bank recently approved a $21 million loan to El Salvador to implement a social protection program to reduce poverty and increase the standard of living for low- income families. The Salvadorian plan, known as Red Solidaria, is aimed at increasing productivity and income for many who have been left behind. The program sets out to help many families afford health care and educational opportunities as well as enhance the existing social service structure. The World Bank and the Salvadorian government are confidant that a full scale social protection plan will help reduce poverty, especially in rural areas. Seniors in El Salvador stand to benefit substantially from the Red Solidaria program. 

Canada: Getting Old in Canada, Growing Inequalities. (October 24, 2005)
(Article in French)
Twenty-five percent of the retired population own more than 84% of the private pension funds. On the other hand, 3 families out of 10 have no private pension. The unequal income distribution of income will grow in the next few years. Indeed, in the next decade, the contributory employer based pensions will develop more than ever in the past. It also means that inequalities among workers and as a matter of fact, among retired people will increase. The gap between the income of men and women will widen too, impacting the retirement income of men and women. Where did social protection in old age go?

Mexico: Government Grants Money to Thousands of Elderly Persons to Pay for Food (October 7, 2005)
(Article in Spanish)

More than three thousand elderly adults in Chihuahua, Mexico, will soon receive government monetary benefits that they may use to pay for food, clothing, and other necessities. Of the approximately 3,500 elderly residents of Chihuahua set to receive these benefits, over 90% of them already possess the official card that they need to access the money to which the State Government has entitled them. To qualify for the benefits, a person must be at least 70 years old and present a birth certificate and some form of photo identification. This monetary benefits program reflects the efforts of Chihuahua’s government to provide the city’s elderly with the money they need to lead a comfortable and healthy lifestyle, which, without some form of government support, becomes elusive once age has forced them out of the work force.

Mexico: The World Bank Reports a 38% Poverty Rate Among Mexico’s Elderly (September 15, 2005)
Article in Spanish)
According to the World Bank, 38 % of Mexico ’s elderly population lives below the poverty rate, which is a greater percentage than that of other sections of the population. This rate, higher than that of countries with statistically lower per capita incomes, is greater than the rate reported in Brazil , Chile , and Colombia . Although more than 20 % of the urban population aged 65 and over receives pension benefits, only seven percent of elderly adults in urban areas, and less than one percent in rural areas, have access to pension benefits. Recently the World Bank has suggested a social pension in countries where the poverty among elderly is so great that there is no other recourse. Already Mexico City has a social pension for older persons. 

Antigua: Pensioners Call for MBS List to be Extended (September 8, 2005)
Antigua and Barbuda Pensioners Association have asked the Medical Benefits Scheme to expand the list of illnesses that it covers. Because older people are subject to many illnesses that lie outside the list, they cannot afford medications and need MBS assistance for these additional medical conditions. Not only do the pensioners ask for the extension of the list, but also they ask MBS to carry a greater variety of medications for a wider range of illnesses at various pharmacy locations so that the drugs are more easily accessible. An ideal program would cover the costs of the medications for the sick and be available at local pharmacies. These pharmacies could then bill MBS monthly for reimbursement.

Latin America: Social Security in Latin America Generates Exclusion (September 7, 2005)
(Article in Spanish)
Jorge Bernedo, consultant to the United Nations Program for Development, claims that vast sections of the population in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay suffer from a lack of healthcare and social security benefits resulting from corruption and lack of transparency in the governments of these countries. This deprivation of basic health and economic support services is especially intense in the Andean countries marred by severe poverty, demographic problems, and weak, unstable economies. Social security exclusion affects not only Latin America ’s poor, but also, and especially, its elderly.  

Report: Latin America: Intergenerational Transfers and Social Protection in Latin America (August-September 2005)
This paper from the UN Experts Group Meeting on Social and Economic Implications of Changing Population Age Structures scrutinizes the social and economic impacts of intergenerational transfers in Latin America. It also gives readers tips to understand how crucial these transfers have become in Latin America in family-based social protection. Some Latin American governments have not given attention to these transfers while they tended to economic crises. However, intergenerational transfers, both public and private, are key to avoiding future crises.

Ecuador: Ecuador Palacio Partially Vetoes Pension Bill (July 21, 2005)

The President of Ecuador has partially vetoed a social security plan that would give workers back the money they paid into the pension reserve fund. The plan called for the immediate return of the funds within 90 days, but the president wants the return to be more gradual. Congress has one month to decide whether or not they want to override the President’s veto and put the social security bill into law. Will there be a pension program for Equadorians after these withdrawals? 

Ecuador: Ecuador Congress Sends Social Security Bill to President (July 11, 2005)
This controversial Social Security bill demands the withdrawal of $734 million in savings from the Ecuadorean Institute for Social Security, or IESS, to be paid to Ecuadorean workers. Many Ecuadoreans who have paid into the IESS retirement fund are insisting on payment now. Some Ecuadorean Congressmen agree with the workers but the President is expected to veto the bill.

Mexico: Urgent Pension Reforms (July 11, 2005)
(Article in Spanish)
The System of Pensions in Durango , Mexico , recently announced its plan for an immediate annual increase of 60 million pesos (5.5 million USD). Under the direction of Jose Torres, the pensionary system of the state would collect 180 million pesos (around 17 million USD) from income figures, acquiring 17.5% of pension payrolls, which would benefit expected retirees. Created in the 1960s, the System of Pensions was designed to give state officials and workers economic certainty after they decide to leave the workforce. However, due to changing times and longer life expectancies, the System of Pensions has been negatively affected such that retirees receive pensions for twice the number of years than those in the 1960s. Unfortunately, as the number of years has doubled, there has been little or no financial modifications made in order to support that large increase until now.

Mexico: Help for the Aging (June 24, 2005)
(Article in Spanish)
In Tijuana, Mexico, the majority of elders are looking forward to the new pension plan proposed by their local government. As part of the new plan, the Regulation of the Rights of Older Persons promises many beneficial improvements such as monthly financial assistance, medical services, economic protection and the right to suitable public transportation.  

Chile: Tierney Again Misleadingly Touted Chilean Retirement System (June 15, 2005)
Like many Republicans who want to convince people that privatization is a good idea, New York times columnist John Tierney offered the Chilean system as a work-promoting alternative. Once again, Chile is used as a good example of the ownership society. But let’s take a look of what is really happening there: many Chileans continue working into their 60s because they are too poor to retire. Dictator Pinochet’s plan to introduce private accounts into the pension system never enabled Chileans to “accumulate enough money in the account to finance a pension that pays at least half their salary.” 

Colombia: Colombian Senate Prepares Final Vote on Bill Curbing Pensions (June 14, 2005) 
With the International Monetary Fund breathing down their necks, Colombia's legislators will likely approve changes to the country's social security law, aiming to reduce the government's budget deficit by more than 990 billion pesos a year ($423 million) for the next 50 years. The formula includes a “privatization” feature. The proposed changes in the social security system are part of an eighteen-month, $613 million loan agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund in April. IMF, based in Washington DC , said in its annual economic assessment of the South American country in May, that controlling social security expenditures is key to Colombia 's gaining control of its budget. The government expects to cover about 4 trillion pesos of the 6 trillion pesos owed to pensioners this year because the social security system lacks adequate funding. Furthermore, Colombians can choose to accept fixed payments from the social security system or have their retirement funds managed by one of six private pension companies. The new law will affect only social security's guaranteed payments.

Canada: Elderly Get the Boot? (June 2, 2005)
Aging Chinese pensioners living in a social housing project in Chinatown face eviction. The majority of tenants are seniors in their 70s, 80s and 90s. On May 6, the Court of Quebec upheld a 2002 Régie du Logement Decision allowing their landlord, the Montreal Chinese Community United Centre/Housing Corporation, to cancel the leases of 16 tenants if they don't settle unpaid rent by June 30. Tenants say at least 30 residents involved in the dispute have received such eviction notices. Initially, all of the poorest residents paid 25 per cent of their household incomes in rent but in 2000, the housing project's board of directors raised rents for low-income residents to 35 per cent of their household, which is far more than pensioners can afford. The elderly tenants only remaining hope focuses on replacing the project’s board removed, so the dispute and the court battle can end.

Panama: Costly Pension Reforms (June 10, 2005)
Panamanian President Martin Torrijos acknowledges that the Social Security Fund reforms that his government has proposed will unfortunately cause huge financial strain. Some reforms include increasing the retirement ages for men and women as well as requiring a higher contribution to social security in order for workers to qualify for a pension. The President claims that these new laws are the only way to pull the Social Security Fund out of its enormous deficit of almost $4.5 billion.

Chile: Chile Con Economy? (May 9, 2005)
This Latin American country privatized pensions 24 years ago. Bernard Wasow examines a late 2004 World Bank publication that now critiques the Chilean privatization model that the Bank forced on most of Latin America in the 1990’s. US citizens can learn a lot from Chileans about how private accounts neither helped government finances nor did they give adequate financial support to older persons.

Mexico: A Slow Flow for Mexico Pension Plan (April 21, 2005)
Mexico's attempt to get pension fund managers to invest in the stock market is getting off to a sluggish start.

Chile: Chile's Retirees Find Shortfall in Private Plan (January 27, 2005) 
"If people really had freedom of choice, 90 percent of them would opt to go back to the old system," said a Chilean government official who specializes in pension issues. This words sound very strange when we know that Bush said the "United States take some lessons from Chile , particularly when it comes to how to run our pension plans. "When dictator Augusto Pinochet first advertised the Chilean system of pension, there were the same promises as now in United States: private investments will be very good for the economy, generating higher returns, and generating pension benefits larger than Social Security's ones. But the Chilean example shows that privatization is a bad idea. The system is not yet self-sustaining, the money spent on pensions represents more than a quarter of the national budget and many elderly live in wrenching poverty. And this is good for US citizens?

Mexico's Pension Funds Eager for Foreign Equities (January 17, 2005) 
Mexico's second-largest pension fund plans to buy more in stocks in the United States and Europe than in its own country, as new regulations allow the company to start investing in equities. Who will it benefit? The old of Mexico ? Or the large pockets of the speculators? 

Return to Top of Page

Asia Pacific

China: New Pension Policy Will Not Increase Individual Contribution (December 15, 2005)

On Dec. 14, the National People’s Congress held a news conference on the latest changes in pension policy. Individual contributions will decrease from 11% of the wage rate to 8%, effective Jan. 1, 2006. Officials from Ministry of Labor and Social Security also gave an authoritative interpretation on the policy changes. They confirmed that the new policy will not increase individual contributions.

South Korea: Government and Economists Call for Increase in Pension Contribution and Cut in Benefits to Avert Crisis (December 9, 2005)

The South Korean government has delayed pension reform due to a wide range of different opinions among politicians. The government wants to increase pension contributions to the nation’s pension fund and to cut current benefits. The Korean Development Institute warns that there will be nothing left in the pension fund in 30 years if no changes are made. A Korean Association of Retired People survey said that 7 out of 10 pensioners feel that the current national pension is insufficient and does not assure a secure retirement. Clearly, Korean elders mistrust this “reform” process.

China: Chinese Feel Insecure About Pensions (December 7, 2005)
According to a survey conducted by the China Youth Daily and Soho.com, many Chinese elderly that are living solely on pensions feel insecure about their future. They are worried that their living standards will gradually deteriorate and believe that getting additional money from the government is the solution to their worries. The World Bank has suggested that China raise its retirement age as other countries are doing. China also faces a difficult challenge of supporting the peasant agricultural workers who currently have no pension program.

Taiwan: Teachers, Veterans Protest Pension Cuts (December 2, 2005)
The National Retirement Teacher Alliance and the National Teachers’ Association & Veteran Association are accusing President Chen Shui-bian of making changes to the pension system for an ulterior motive. They believe that the President demonized civil servants, teachers, and military personnel in order to boost his ratings for the upcoming election. In response, they plan a large-scale protest scheduled for December 10, International Human Rights Day. They feel that the President is splitting the people of Taiwan to increase his votes. In some cases, retired civil servants, teachers and military personnel are receiving higher pension payments than current worker’s salaries. Protesters argue that this reform should have had a proper public hearing with the teachers, civil servants, and military personnel in advance. They feel they deserve to know the facts since the issue affects them directly. The Taiwan government bans unionization of public employees.

China: Social Survey on Pension Reform: 50.8% are concerned about life after retirement (December 1, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)

Starting from Jan. 1, 2006, individuals will deposit 8% instead of 11% of their wage into their retirement accounts. Employers will no longer make direct deposit, but cede their share of the  retirement contribution to the relevant oversight government agency. Experts point out this rate adjustment allows elderly to live relatively comfortably on current, but future elderly will get much lower retirement benefits. The latest social survey in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou suggests about 50.8% people are concerned about financial viability in their retirement life.

South Korea: Urgent Pension Reform (November 29, 2005)
On Tuesday, a parliamentary panel pledged to try to find a compromised pension reform plan by February. If they do not decide upon a solution, the pension reform will be delayed another three years causing a heavier burden on current the adult children of old persons. Korea’s low-premium and high payout schemes are expected to run out in the year 2040. The problem, according to the article, is that both the ruling and oppositional parties are only looking at their short-term political gains. This irresponsibility is what is interfering with the parties achieving their ultimate goal of securing fiscal stability, spreading benefits as wide as possible and ensuring substantive benefits according to contributions.

China: 140 Million Elderly Need Social Help (November 22, 2005)
(Article in French)
“About” 140 million Chinese elderly need social help, said Mr. Li Xueju, minister for civil affairs in a conference Sunday in Beijing. He also said that the government itself was not able to provide such help and underlined the importance of the role of charities and social organizations.  He urged local institutions to recognize such groups in order to encourage a real collaboration.

China: Pension System Covers Only 15% of Population (November 9, 2005)
Xiang Huaicheng, the chairman of China’s National Council for Social Security Fund is concerned that only 12 % of society is covered by a pension system. The International Labor Organization considers 20% to be the minimum standard. China is considering adjustments to offer pension schemes to people living in rural areas that have lost their farmland to industrial development and construction projects as well as migrant workers in rural areas.

India: New, Improved Pension Bill Set for House Debut (November 7, 2005) 
India is poised to pass a pension reform bill after being stalled for several weeks. The Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) calls for a change from a defined benefit system to a defined contribution plan. Defined benefits provide set payments per month throughout retirement while a defined contribution system would result in varying payment amounts depending on how much one contributes to the plan. India is one of many countries throughout the world confronted by the debate over pension structures as it becomes more difficult to fund pension obligations for a growing retirement population. 

Fiji: Work Starts on Pension Bill (November 7, 2005)
The Fiji government has proposed a bill to deregulate the pension fund industry. The Superannuation Supervision Bill would establish companies that would be able to set up and manage pension and retirement funds in the island nation. This legislation would bring competition to the Fiji National Provident Fund as early as 2007. Fiji’s retirees will have to weigh in on the merits of a policy shift that will inevitably impact the financial security of generations to come. 

Australia: Boomers Lack Good Planning (November 3, 2005)
Accountants warn baby boomers to get some professional advice before retiring. Too many over-estimate their retirement savings and do not realize that what they have may not be sufficient to support them after retirement. Others rely too much on the social security system.

Korea: Korea’s Baby Boomers Face Retirement (November 1, 2005)
Korean Baby Boomers face uncertainty in their coming retirement years. Unlike their Japanese or American counterparts who benefited from strong economies during their peak work years, Korean Baby Boomers came of age during less robust economic conditions. In addition, Koreans are more likely to take care of aging parents while it is unlikely their children’s generation will do the same for them. There is some good news for the Baby Boom generation of Korea. By and large, they are healthy, well educated and hold a lot of political influence that could carry into their older years. 

India: Bottom-up Evaluation of Non-Contributory Social Protection Policy for Rural Labourers in India (October 2005)
The Chronic Poverty Research Centre based in the UK recently released a report evaluating the effectiveness of non-contributory social protection programs on the poverty levels of workers in rural India. The study points out differences between effective implementation strategies and program outcome. In the case of rural Indian workers, the study shows the implementation of non-contributory social protection schemes increase the power of local powerbrokers over rural workers. At the same time, social protection plans tend to help reduce poverty levels of rural Indians. Experts caution that government officials may try to influence outcome indicators. 

China: DPP Lawmakers Oppose Pension Raise for Elderly Farmers (October 29, 2005)
Lawmaker Wang Jung-Chang has raised opposition to the motion to raise monthly pensions for elder farmers because it will put a heavier financial burden on the government. The original plan intended to assist elderly farmers with a pension hike of NT $1,000 monthly. With China’s budget deficit close to NT $300 billion, this motion is still up for debate.

South Korea: Pension Corporation Asked for More Than It Could Spend (October 28, 2005) 
Reports show that the Government Employees Pension Corporation has been requesting much more money than it needed. The Corporation has only spent 22.5% of the money given to them. When asked for an explanation, the Corporation replied saying that since the government employees were being let go, it drove up the retirement allowances and their action were preventive. But since there have been fewer employees let go than predicted, a much smaller amount of the budget was used leaving a large sum of money in the Corporation’s vault.

Korea: New Retirement Pension Plans Improve Stability Expectations (October 28, 2005)
South Korea has begun implementing its new pension system. Now people will have two choices: the first choice will be to receive their pension as an annuity or to stick with the traditional system of receiving a lump-sum. Because Korea’s social security is still not very reliable, many feel that this new pension system gives middle aged and elderly some security about their financial needs after retirement. The new plan is called the defined benefit type. However the new plan has no history and no regulatory framework to guide it. Corporate Korea is not fully prepared to set aside the large amount of money. We will have to wait and see how the system works out. 

Taiwan: Pension Reform May Be Put On Hold (October 28, 2005)
Pension reform is at the heart of this year’s political campaigns in Taiwan. Current proposals aim to cap pension funds put in a special savings account that earns 18% interest annually. Several government officials have suggested plans to reform the state pension system be put off until after the December elections to stop the issues from becoming overly politicized. Members of the opposition party are calling for cuts to government pensions that would benefit the nation’s political leaders. 

China: Prospect on Pension System Reform (October 27, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
A social security pension fund, corporation-sponsored retiree pension and individual retirement accounts are the three pillars for the Chinese pension system. As a result, it is economically imperative to grant foreign investment capital limited access, experts point out. In particular, precautionary measures are especially necessary when opening up the social security pension fund since it has the biggest impact among the three on the pension system and on current and future older persons in China.

China: Challenges and Suggestions for China’s Pension Reform (October 27, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
A recent World Bank report noted that the Chinese population aged at a much faster rate than did its economic development. While the pension reform has been in place for more than ten years and the nation has made significant improvement, China continues to face challenges and unsolved issues as the home to the largest number of old people in the world.

South Korea: Pension Plan Key to Happy Retirement (October 25, 2005)

Japan will implement a new pension system that will begin on December 1st. The purpose is to provide more secure post-retirement benefit program because current retirement benefits are not 100% reliable. The new pension system will have two new options: the defined benefit plan and the defined contribution plan. Service providers and staff will be provided with the appropriate training to make sure the new pension system is carried out properly. This new plan also allows citizens to have an individual retirement account for those who change jobs and still receive benefits from their previous employer. As more workplaces adopt this new plan and more employees decide to contribute to their post retirement funds, we can expect to see Japan’s funds steadily increase. 

South Korea: MetLife Targets Korea’s Retirement Pension Plans (October 20, 2005)
In the Asia-Pacific region, Korea is MetLife’s number one market. They will introduce a retirement plan this coming December. To show their commitment to Korea, they set up the Children’s Welfare Foundation with a starting contribution of 3.55 billion won ($3.4 million). This MetLife Korea Foundation will support 17 institutions with disabled children programs.

China: Pension Reform Expected to Implement in Parts of Northeastern Provinces (October 20, 2005)

(Article in Chinese)
Prime Minister Mr. Jiabao Wen hosted the Oct 19 State Council Conference approved measures on implementing pension changes in parts of the Northeastern Provinces, where many State-owned factories predominate. 

China: China Frets Over Graying Population (October 11, 2005)
After years of focusing on ways to increase the country’s economic growth, the Communist Party leaders are now expected to start revising the social service system. Experts claim that China faces a $300 billion dollars shortfall in accommodating its elderly. Immediate revisions must be made with the aging population growing rapidly while the proportion of the working population is shrinking.

Retirees to Benefit from Pension Rule Changes (September 28, 2005)
The Australian government will put into affect a revised pension plan for new pensions starting this upcoming January. The change takes into consideration longer life expectancies and tries to accommodate this situation with more flexible pension payments. This policy will alleviate the stress that many elderly have, especially those elderly whose only source of income is their pension checks.

China: Review on Pension System Reform (September 23, 2005)
Despite significant improvement on pension change over the past two decades, China ’s pension system fails to provide an all-inclusive plan. First, pension funds system financed by government and state- owned corporations is in the development and testing phase.  Many pension assistance programs are still waiting to be setup. Second, current pension plan will be facing great financial challenges as the population ages. Third, the pension system in the countryside hasn’t really started yet.  

Korea: What Should I Rely on for Living After Retirement? (September 21, 2005) 
Korean workers in their 30’s and 40’s are financially worried for their retirement life. These workers have families to support and bills to pay, including house payments. The Korean government wants to improve pension system but it this policy will push up property taxes. Many Koreans bought their homes thinking that it would be a wise investment for their retired life. Now housing prices are dropping. In December Korea will put into effect a three-tier pension system: one that includes public pension, retiree pension, and private pension. The country plans to increase the pension benefits and sustain low interest rates.

New Zealand: Anger Grows Over Foreign Pension Law (September 14, 2005) 

In New Zealand, great animosity among pensioners is emerging because of the legislation’s reduction of their superannuation entitlement. The Work and Income government office reduces the super entitlement of the New Zealanders who have worked overseas because they receive a separate pension from them as well. Pensioners are upset because they believe it is unfair that the law makes no distinction between the taxpayer-funded schemes and contributory pension schemes. Chris Arnesen, who is a spokesman for the pensioners, says that the government has taken no action to correct this problem over the last past four years. 

India: Pension Bill’s Fate Rests on Left’s Consent (September 13, 2005) 
The government is waiting upon the Left’s approval of the provisions on the pension regulatory bill before bringing it to Parliament. The Left has stated numerous objections to the bill. The Party says that this pension effort imitates Chile; pension fund managers found the Chilean plan to be detrimental because they could not pay the employees the minimum payments. Importantly, the Left fears that that MNC pension funds may be invested in offshore funds rather than with Indian investments. As of now, the pension bill is on hold.

China: Nation to Join EU in Pension Project (September 7, 2005)
On September 5, 2005, China joined the European Union in the first ever co-operation in a social security “mobile pension” project. At issue is how to calculate pensions when a worker may change countries or states during his or her working life, each with slightly different pension arrangements. Although not much detail is yet available, it is definite that the EU and China will hold a series of meetings to discuss topics social protection, social cohesion, labor legislation, and labor relations in multiple jurisdictions. 

China: Three Obstacles Prevent Farmer Workers from Participating Pension System (August 29, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Many believe that every farm worker dreams of a reliable pension plan. However, reports show more and more farm workers choose to opt out of the pension system and the trend continues. Why do they choose to go without coverage?

Taiwan: Nearly 1 Million Workers Will Not Have Retirement Pension (August 23, 2005)
As a result of the regulation in the Labor Standards Act, there are an estimated 1 million Taiwanese citizens who qualify for neither the state run New Pension Scheme, nor Labor Insurance. According to the Labor Standards Act, accountants, athletes, coaches, doctors, lawyers, referees, the self-employed and those working in companies with less that four employees do not qualify for state pension benefits. For working people for which the Labor Standards Act does not apply, they must save for retirement individually and be diligent to maintain enough finances to last them throughout their retirement.

China: Pension Reform Urged to Better Care For Elderly (August 19, 2005)
The province of Guangdong has a rapidly ageing population, with more than 70 percent of the aged living in poor mountain communities. The Guangdong Provincial Committee of Aged People’s Affairs is calling on the government to quickly reform the pension system and provide more care for the elderly. Guangdong is an aging society whose financial development is far behind that of the Pearl River Delta Region, partially due to the province’s decreasing birth rates. The committee is seeking to pass reform for elder person’s best legal, financial, and health interests.

India: Early Pension Withdrawals Unlikely (August 18, 2005)
The standing committee on finance has recommended that employees be allowed to make premature withdrawals on their pension accounts under the new pension scheme (or NPS). Although NPS will probably not go into effect for about a year, it is doubtful that the government will adopt the recommendation. The government has stated that it thinks that early pension withdrawals would “defeat the purpose of accumulating a corpus large enough to generate a reasonable pension.” They believe that early withdrawals would, in effect, defeat the whole purpose of the new pension scheme.

India: Pension Payouts Reach a Dead End (August 18, 2005)
The social welfare department of the Delhi government has been paying pensions to over 10,000 people who are already deceased. Taxpayer’s money is, therefore, lying dormant in many bank accounts and post offices. Although the government has tried to get the unused money back from banks and post offices, the process has been very time consuming. They still have yet to get all the money back. The money in these accounts could be used for social welfare programs for senior citizens, if only they could get all the money back.

Taiwan: Politicians and Academics Call for More Privatized Pension Scheme (August 8, 2005)
Taiwan has launched a massive campaign to help its citizens think more seriously about saving for retirement. The National Council of Labor Affairs is offering Taiwanese workers the choice between the old pension scheme and a new one. The new scheme promises investors a fixed minimum return over two years and calculates that the rate of return on investments will reach 6 percent. This enticing offer has lured twice of many people to choose the new scheme over the old one. However, Chiu Shean-Bii, the Chairman of the Pension Fund Association, argues that the new pension scheme can only replace 30 to 40 percent of worker’s income in retirement.

Thailand: Pension Plans Misunderstood (August 8, 2005)
The director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office has said that if the people do not understand what the mandatory savings program is all about, they will think that it is just another tax. The legislation in consideration right now, calls for employee contributions of 3 percent. However, pension authorities claim that in order for future retirees to retain comparable living standards, they will need pension benefits that are at least 50 percent of their salary, much more than the current level of 13 percent, therefore the contribution rate should be 6 percent. The authorities fear, however, that if they implement high contribution rates, many companies will be eager to terminate their retirement benefit plans instead of providing them in conjunction with government benefits.

China: Ping An Annuity Insurance Company of China Approved Rights to Manage Corporate Annuity Fund (August 4, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Yesterday, Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) granted a total of 37 firms the rights to manage corporate annuity funds. Ping An Annuity Insurance Company of China , claimed to be the first institution specialized in annuity fund management in China , is quoted to operate very soon. Many believe corporate annuity fund will promote the development of capital market once the entry begins.

China: China Grants 37 Firms Right to Manage Corporate Annuity Fund (August 4, 2005)
China's Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) announced Tuesday that 37 firms have obtained right to manage corporate annuity funds, which is part of the country's insurance system for retirees. It is believed that the government has finally found "reliable" finance handling companies for the corporate annuity funds and entry into the capital market is likely to start soon.

Singapore: Few Know How Much to Save for Retirement (August 3, 2005)
According to Singapore 's National Financial Literacy Survey, the citizens of Singapore know how to save. Almost 90 percent of the population has money saved for a rainy day. On the other hand, very few Singaporeans know how much to save for retirement. The survey also shows that many Singaporeans do not know about general financial aids such as insurance and trusts. In order for retiring Singaporeans to lead happy lives in their golden years, Singapore has to take steps to teach them techniques for building a nest egg for retirement.

China: More Than 10 Institutional Investors Approved Eligible in Initial Pension Management Eligibility Evaluation (July 28, 2005)
According to China Business News, more than ten institutional investors, of which two specialized in pension management, were approved as eligible for the pension management business in the initial eligibility evaluation. Prior to approval, the pension management business in China was heavily monopolized by regional or industry oriented pension management centers. Although the result is not final, the deregulation is expected to bring positive changes to the pension market in China .

India: Retirement Blues: Indians Expect Children to Take Care (July 26, 2005)
Deeply engrained attitudes of family values, respect for one’s elders and unity have placed the elderly in the hands of their children for support and care in their later years. A recent study showed that roughly nine in ten Indian seniors (about 94 percent) expect their children to cover the majority of their retirement costs. The study also revealed that half of the Indian elderly persons believe that money does not equate to happiness in old age. Would seniors in the West be happier in their last years by embracing this view?

Northern Mariana Islands: Pension Obligation Bonds Eyed to Fix Government's 80 Million Dollar Debt (July 19, 2005)
The Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund is seeking permission to float pension obligation bonds. The CNMI government owes the Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund 80 million dollars in unpaid contributions. The government offers a very liberal 24 percent of employer contributions to the pension scheme while employees only pay between 6 and 9 percent. But because various crises have hit the Pacific area, the government has fallen behind on payments to the Fund.
India: India's Old-Age Crisis (July 18, 2005)
With a population of over 1 billion people, barely one-sixth of Indians are covered by pensions when they retire. Yet, government workers, who comprise just 5-6 percent of the working population, take 55 percent of India ’s GDP in the form of pension benefits. This means that a very small percentage of the Indian population is using more than half of the country’s GDP. Indian politicians need to formulate and implement a new pension scheme whereby everyone has some form of retirement coverage that doesn’t completely eat away at the country’s GDP. India has a pension problem that needs reform now, not later.

Bashkiria: The Implementation of the Law Regarding the Benefits in Bashkiria Is Happening (July 14, 2005) 
(Article in Russian) 
The Bashkiria Republic extends towards the western parts from the Southern Ural Mountains to the rivers of Belaya and Kama . The cost of benefits payments in Bashkiria during the last six months reached the amount of 485,728 thousand rubles. According to the official sources, the mechanism for implementation of the Federal law 122 (the benefits for the socially vulnerable people), is functioning without major disruptions or problems. The pensioners, veterans, disabled persons and other part of the population eligible for receiving help from the Bashkiria government are receiving free public transportation passes, additional medical care, medical resorts tickets and other type of benefits. For more information on the statistics of the benefits expenditures for the pensioners and veterans in Bashkiria , read further. 

China: Retirement Life! Are You Ready? (July 9, 2005)
China is the country that currently hosts the most older persons. Young couples provide for four parents and one child, a situation that is very difficult. Generally speaking, every adult should secure their retirement livelihood using three methods—social (government-based) pensions (30%), employer pensions (30%), and investments or savings that they have purchased for themselves (40%). To prepare better for retirement has become an important new topic for the new working class.

Asia Pacific: Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2005
This comprehensive document cites some of the problems that come along with demographic shifts in Asia and the Pacific. The aging rate of the population in this region is quickly outpacing the number of workers to support them. With less people in the work force to contribute to pensions plans, large budget deficits will develop without some necessary adjustments. Consequently, the pay-as-you-go public pension system will need to be augmented as the increase in pension payments to the aging population puts greater demand on government reserves.  This Economic and Social Survey suggests several policy options available to those governments in Asia and the Pacific.

Taiwan: President Hails New Retirement Pension Scheme (July 1, 2005)
The Taiwanese government has implemented a new pension scheme; it is the first of its kind in the small country. Despite protests from businesses concerning the extra personnel costs associated with the new pension scheme, it is meant to be a progressive step toward helping workers and their families live more contentedly during their retirement years.

India: Taking Pensions to the Hinterland: No Longer Should It Be Seen As the Salariat's Preserve (June 27, 2005)
A tiny elite of 11 per cent of the total population of India is covered by a formal pension scheme. Many people think that the National Pension System (NPS) could not cover the vast number of people who are outside today's pension schemes. The recently released Indian Retirement Earnings and Savings (IRES) database, produced information on 42,000 randomly sampled households in India . The trends that emerge from this database shatter many myths. It is a myth to believe that the uncovered sector works till death and, therefore, does not require "old-age income security." On average, people in the uncovered sector expect to withdraw from the labor market when they turn 62; they tend to live for an average of 15 years after retirement. This highlights the importance of building up savings in the working years, so as to finance their old age.

Australia: Australia Faces Ageing Work Population Crisis (June 23, 2005)
According to an Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation report, Australia must expand the number of older people in the Australian work force. Failure to do so, the study claims, will result in labor shortages and a stagnant economy. The OEDC suggests that less tax incentives for retiring early and more coordination on aging strategies within the government can help alleviate the shortages. However, many people dream of retiring early. Should Australians who can afford to give up that dream to help their government? Or are there other approaches, such as more immigration? Better organized work situations? More equal distribution of wages? Who will these policies really benefit in the society? 

China: Reform of Pension System: Group Community” Employees Can Also Get Their Pensions! (June 22, 2005)
Beginning in March, the city of HaErBin has broadened its coverage of participants in the pension system. Employees in companies of small cities or towns, which are called “Group Community” employees, can also be included in the pension system! According to the new policy, as long as you are a worker in these companies, you have records on file, and you did not retire before June 30, 2004, then you have the right to receive pension benefits.

Japan: Baby Boomers Poised to Turn Pensioners en Masse (June 21, 2005)
Like many countries, Japan is wondering about the impact of mass retirements that will begin to happen soon. Some view the situation as an opportunity, especially for business thanks to the emergence of a consumer group with a lot of free time and retirement bonuses to spend. However, the experience of seniors will disappear and firms will only have younger workers. As the workers leave the work force, they will begin to draw down their savings and the household savings rates will decline. What is sure is that the coming mass retirement is a big issue for Japanese and will change the face of their society.


Japan: Fast-Aging Japan Keeps Its Elders On the Job Longer (June 15, 2005) 
Many Japanese workers are enthusiastic about working longer, even though the official retirement age remains a relatively young sixty. Keeping the elderly at work could help to maintain the size of Japan 's work force. Japan 's government hopes that people working longer will make its pension benefits available later and later. With Japan 's birth rate declining fast for decades, the pool of young workers is shrinking. Unlike the U.S. , Japan is reluctant to rely on large-scale immigration to support the work force. Instead, it is trying another strategy: attract the elderly to work longer before receiving retirement benefits, effectively dealing with old age by making it start later.

India, New Delhi: Pensions May Increase Fiscal Pressure (June 8, 2005)
In India, Asia's fourth-largest economy, retirement benefits are available to about eleven percent of the working population, about 3.4 million federal government employees. Starting January 1, 2005, India made it mandatory for new federal employees to contribute ten percent of their salary to a new pensions scheme, to be matched by the government. The remaining eighty nine percent of the workforce is engaged cash-in-hand with no formal pension scheme. The government wants to cut the pension burden since the pension liability has gone up 21 percent per year on average since the 1990s. Today, together with interest payments, pension payments make up half of India 's federal spending. While the government believes the new policy will ease the pension portion of its finances, it could take decades before the benefits of the contributory scheme roll out.

Malaysia: Social Pension for the Elderly (June 1, 2005) 
Retirees are asking for a social pension in Malaysia. Some developing countries already have a social pension so the much richer Malaysia has the capacity to institute an old age security income for women, family and every older person who needs it. “No one at old age should be deprived of food and shelter as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” says Lum Kin Tuck, president of the National Council of Senior Citizens Organisations of Malaysia (Nacscom).

Japan: What Japanese “Enterprise Pension” Can Inspire Us? (June 1, 2005)

(Article in Chinese)

An “Enterprise Pension” is a pension from a firm or employer intended for its own workers at retirement. In Japan , these pensions have been developed with government supervision and the provisions vary from company to company depending on their material conditions. At retirement, employees receive the “Enterprise Pension” in monthly or annual payments. Compared to the government’s universal social pension system, employers view the enterprise pension as part of their employees’ welfare and as an incentive for workers to stay with a firm. Enterprise Pensions differ from firm to firm and among countries. This article focuses on Japan ’s programs as a possible model for other countries.

China: Trial Run in Canton Province to Strengthen Pension System in Individual Part is Facing 10.4 Millions of Historical Shortage (May 26, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
In China, the exchequer in pension system is mixed. There is no clear line for the money used for the whole system and to the individuals. This means the new participating employees have to defray the pensions give to those now retirees; meanwhile, they have to accumulate money for the pensions they will get when they are retired. Canton province is going to run a trial to strengthen this system in individual part. The main focus will be, “separate the exchequer for the whole and for the individual, making the individual accounts be substantial.” However, the biggest problem is, there is still a 10.4 billions of historical money shortage need to be filled.

South Korea: Government Pushes New Social Security System for Elderly (May 24, 2005)
The South Korean Government and ruling Uri Party officials have decided to set up long-term care insurance for senior citizens as early as 2007 in order to address the welfare needs brought on by the growing elderly population. 

China: 800 Millions of Old Debt for Late Pension Distribution Has Been Paid-off in HeBei (May 24, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
On April 25, 2005, less than one week prior to the “May First” golden week, 92 companies in ChunDe, the capital city of HeBei, placed late pension monies into the bank accounts of some 7,941 retirees. The delinquent money had been paid off! This is an important date to remember. The problematic history of late pension distribution in HeBei province was solved on this day. The 840 million from the government arrived on time and more than a hundred thousand retirees got back their “living money.” This project took 16 months to plan and complete and ended these elders’ sadness over having no pension for more than ten years. 

Korea: Low-Income Seniors to Receive W100,000 in Pension Benefits (May 8, 2005) 
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Sunday it plans to increase the nation’s pension for low-income seniors in order to offer more financial support for the increased number of elderly beneficiaries. Since many seniors voted for the political party now in power, the party has had to come up with a plan to increase pensions which were unconscionably low.

China: It’s Always Better for Individuals to Have a Retirement Plan Earlier (April 30, 2005)
Financial specialists point out that the aged population will be very large in China and it is not possible for individuals to depend on the social pension system to give them enough money. Therefore, it’s always better for individuals to have a retirement plan earlier, even in their 20s or 30s. The financial plan for people close to retirement age should focus on stable, safer investment tools, which can keep their original money from losing. Younger people could choose more profitable investment tools, which can secure them against inflation. 

China: Three Challenges and Six Transformations in China Pension System (April 21, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Liu Yong-Fu, the minister of MLSS (Ministry of Labour and Social Security), announced in Beijing that the social pension system is very important in the field of social security. The people and money involved are huge. To build up the system and to raise the needed capital will take a long time. Now, China can only distribute pensions normally. There are still lots of problems that need to be solved. He notes three challenges and six transformations in the near future that China must address.

China: Social Pension System in China is Facing Harsh Challenges (April 21, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Huaicheng Xiang, the president of the China Social Protection Budget Committee, announced in Hong Kong that the social pension system in China faces two difficult challenges. Firstly, China ’s aging population is increasing very swiftly. In the year 2000, the population of the 60-year-old’s and above was about 10% of the national population, equivalent to the world average. By 2030, the world average will be 16%, while the percentage in China will hit 24.5%. China will age faster than the world average. Secondly, the social pension system is not healthy. The pension insurance covers less than 15% of the work force. And there is a historical deficiency between the new system and the old one in place before 1990. Under these circumstances, the Government must act more efficiently. 

China: Pension System for Farmers is on Operation (April 13, 2005)
In ShanXi province, there are 3,750,000 country town employees will be recruited in the pension system, including 3 million farmers. The number of China’s country town employees is 138 millions, however, less than 5% of them have pensions. This large scale, new provincial new pension system could solve the difficulties when the employees change their working places (in cities or in country towns). It could ensure a stable pension system within ShanXi province. It is also an innovative approach in China.

Australia: An Increase of the Age of Retirement? (April 12, 2005)
(Article in French)
The number of retired Australians is going to double in 40 years according to a new study. The demographic facts has pushed the Australian government to ask employees to work longer to help the country  face the aging of its population.

China: More Capital to Tackle Pension Deficit (March 28, 2005)
The Chinese government is trying to resolve the problem of the national pension deficit. Indeed, the “4-2-1 phenomenon” is putting the country's only-children under huge financial pressure: they now have four grandparents and two parents to support. But increasing the retirement age would make the available jobs situation worse. Now the government is considering expanding the social security network and using “more capital tied up in State-owned assets” to support the plan.

China: Problems Facing the Pension Systems in the Rural Areas (March 9, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
The Chinese government intended to use the social pension system in the rural areas to combine the pension with family caretaking. The pension system in the rural areas is called the “caretaking money for elders.” In recent years researchers found problems as they looked at the rural area pension system. If those problems are not handled now, it is likely that farmers will lose all of their money, a situation that will endanger the stability of the society.

China: The Financial Experts Commented on the Three Hotspots in Pension System (March 9, 2005)

(Article in Chinese)
During the Two Meetings this year, SiLin Zheng, the minister for the Department of Labor Protection, told the journalists that the pension systems should be reformed, including GuDong Province. 

NanJing: Many Companies Avoided to Pay for the Pension for Their Employees (March 7, 2005)

(Article in Chinese)
During the year of 2004, the Department of Labor and Social Protection in NanJing investigated the pensions in the companies and got RMB 106 million. More than 600 companies have never reported the amount of pensions for their employees. There are more than 10,000 companies that did not report the real amount or avoided reporting.

China: “Where Should I Go to Get my Pension?” (March 7, 2005)

(Article in Chinese)
An elders who is more than 60 years old told the journalist, “I retired in Februry of 2001. But I received the pension in June of 2003. Where should I go to get my pension?”  

India: Budget Likely to Retain Sops on Housing, Pension (February 14, 2005) 
The budget for 2005-06 is unlikely to toe the Kelkar Panel's line of doing away with tax incentives on long term savings and housing, but Finance Minister P Chidambaram will have a 'hard look' at all other sops, i.e., a concession, in a bid to widen tax base. 

Hong Kong: It Will Be Approved That the First RMB 100 Million of the Social Protection Budget Will Be Invested in Hong Kong (January 29, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Recently in Shanghai Huaicheng Xiang, the president of China Social Protection Budget Committee, said that there is only paper work left to invest the social protection budget to the abroad market. He is positive about the plan and the budget will be around $50 million to $100 million. Based on the analysis of the market experts, the social protection budget to be invested in Hong Kong will be approved after Chinese New Year's Day.

China: For the First Time the Social Protection Budget Exceeds the Expected Amount; There Is No Problem Over Distributing Pensions on Time (January 27, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Yongfu Liu, the vice director of Chinese Labor and Social Protection Dept., said that the social protection budget for pension, unemployment, medicine, and labor in the last year exceeds the expected amount. This development will build a more stable foundation for China 's social protection system.

China: A Company Pension Will Become Part of Workers' Financial Support for Elderly Chinese (January 15, 2005)

(Article in Chinese)
On January 14, in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, Bin Jiang, the vice president of the Liaoning Labor and Social Protection Dept., told the media that Liaoning Province is expediting
 construction of a second leg of financial support for  elders:  a company pension system. Liaoning Province is one of the first provinces in China to try to change its the social protection system. So far there are 1,124 companies in Liaoning Province that have a company pension systems. The accumulated company pension is RMB140 million, which supports 60,000 persons. The personal average support is RMB2,333.  

India: Government to Set Up Regulator For Pension Sector (January 6, 2005)
Favouring financial sector reforms to foster high 8 per cent growth, the government said on Thursday it would shortly set up a regulator for the pension sector and announced the roadmap for banking reforms, which includes allowing 74 per cent FDI (Foreign Direct investment) in private banks. Doesn't this open India to runs on its currency and other risks of high return speculation? Why should national pensions depend on high risks? 

China: Xiamen City Will Start Distributing Pensions to Those Whose Lands Has Been Used by the Government (January 1, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Since Jan 1st, Siming District and Huli District in Xiamen City will start distributing pensions to those whose lands have been used by the government. In the future, the system might be generalized. The system, proposed by the government, says that those whose lands have been used by the government will be included in the city's basic pension system.

Return to Top of Page



Kazakhstan: A Combination for Pensioners (December 21, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Kazakhstan introduced a new Pension Reform eight years ago. However, the reform plans are still far from perfect and will not be complete until 2030. The reform offers two types of pension plans: compensation from the public pension funds “by schedule” or from insurance companies “by annuity.” The first option seems to have sparked much debate: it places an age limit on how long pensioners could receive funding and the annual amount they could request. Many people oppose the established age limit and the “cut off” principle. They also resent the idea of not being able to manage their pension accumulations in the way they prefer. The second plan is simply too expensive for a great majority of pensioners. Kazakhstan is considering other options. It has already established an actuarial center at the National Bank.

UK: Pension Costs Could Hit UK Rating, Says S&P (December 19, 2005) 
The United Kingdom has failed to meet its revenue projections for the past four years. So the Treasury is blaming older people’s pensions which have increased slightly more than predicted. Even though the British pensions are the lowest in the European Union, the Treasury warns that the country soon will not be able to support their seniors. Will British seniors, threatened with ever-lower pensions, resist these veiled threats to make them pay for the country’s deficits?

UK, Scotland: Almost 70,000 Elderly Scots Who Are Entitled to Pension Credit Are Failing to Claim the Benefits (December 13, 2005)
Scotland ’s government is trying to help the elderly as much as possible but figures show that the most needy elderly are not claiming their pensions.  Figures show that out of 350,000 households, 281,460 are claiming their pensions. Since pensions were first introduced, £10billion has been paid out to older persons. New care standards for elderly in care homes and hospitals have been put into effect.  The government has made efforts to urge older persons to take precautions to stay warm over the holiday period.  Cold-related illnesses are the main cause of death in Scotland .

Russia: Robbery in Accordance with the Law (December 9, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Two types of pension legislations currently exist in Russia. One serves government officials and another functions for ordinary citizens. They are as different as sky and earth and lead to clear social injustice in the society. Therefore, pension reform in Russia yielded nothing more than fixing into the future an extremely low pension rate for the majority of older people and at the same time an enormously high pension rate for the “elite.” The article details the stories of some people who suffer misery due to this inequity. What is the pension gap between ordinary people and the richest in your country? 

Russia: Monetization Continues (December 9, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
While the Ministry of Health and Social Development sums up the results of monetization for 2005 and prepares for 2006, older Russians are getting ready for a new surprise: elimination of subsidies for utility charges. Whereas the federal recipients of subsidies remain protected by the federal budget, the fate of other socially unprotected citizens (along with 8 million pensioners) falls into the hands of regional governments.

Switzerland: National Bank’s Gold Goes for Pensions (December 8, 2005)
(Article in French)
Some 7 billion Swiss Francs were released through the sale of the National Bank’s gold. This will soon be transferred to the Federal Aging and Surviving Insurance Found according to the Swiss Parliament’s latest decision. But a referendum to be held in May 2006 may send this money to the deeply indebted Disabled Insurance Fund instead. In addition, another 14  billion francs from the same sale will go to the Swiss States for their use.

UK: UK Shelves Proposals for Exotic Pension Plans (December 7, 2005)
The British Treasury decided not to include residential property and exotic investments such as fine art, wine, stamp collections, etc., into personal retirement savings accounts. Many investors and financial advisors are disappointed. The government came to the conclusion that it would be difficult for the police to regulate this new aspect of the pension scheme if were to take effect. 

Georgia: Georgian Pensioners Gather Near the Parliament to Protest Against $15 Pensions (December 6, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Georgian pensioners appear shocked by the thoughtlessness of the Georgian government. They demand that their pensions be increased from $15 to at least the level of subsistence. 

UK: Old Age Provision: £10bn Boost to Pensioners Is Fuelled by Energy Measures (December 6, 2005)
The basic state pension in the UK will increase to £84.25 for singles and £134.75 for couples and take affect in April. Gordon Brown states that this will add £10bn a year to elderly incomes. These changes will give 2 million pensioners a guaranteed income and add to their monthly income. The Chancellor has also announced that the “Warm Front” program will help pensioners pay for heating in the winter and offer £300 towards the installation of central heating if pensioners do not have it in their homes. 

France: For a Fully Funded Pension Reserve Fund (December 6, 2005)
(Article in French)
The president of Saint-Gobain, a major French company, a Pension Reserve Fund manager and a French Union CGT leader agree in this column to defend the French Pension Reserve Fund.  The government created the Fund in 1999 in order to assure funding for pensions to private company employees after 2020. These leaders are challenging recent attacks against the Fund and support the original ambitious social approach of the Fund. (See also the article What’s the Future of the Pension Reserve Fund (December 2, 2005))

UK: Government Urges Insurers to Start Low- Cost Pensions (December 5, 2005)
The pension minister directed the country’s insurance industry to construct a low-cost retirement fund plan by February of next year to help future British elderly who are at the risk of poverty. The Pension Commission would like all employers to contribute to the National Pension Savings Scheme unless they specifically disfavor it. Stephen Haddrill, who is the ASI director- general, said that they would build and improve on whatever the government has started. Surveys show that many Britons do not save at all or do not save enough because they cannot afford to save any more, or do not trust the government to give state pensions, therefore not investing in any pension scheme. 

Georgia: Saakashvili Determined a Pension for Himself (December 2, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
In the center of Tbilisi, just blocks away from the parliament, Georgian pensioners are demonstrating against the new law regarding pensions. The majority of demonstrators are former military and police staff. Opposition parties, who also disagree with reforms in the pension law, backed the pensioner-demonstrators. The head of the President’s Administration, Georgy Arveladze, called the present pension order “abnormal” and tried to explain the need for reform. But Georgian elderly don’t believe the populist initiatives of the president. They are enraged by the maximum pension regulation introduced in the law, which specifies a maximum amount of the pension regardless of how long and where the recipient worked. The new law also determines the size of the pension for the president.

Georgia: Pension Increase to Take Toll on Retired Elite (December 2, 2005)
The Georgian government plans on revising the country’s pension scheme. At present, the system contains extremely high pensions for former high government officials that drains monies from ordinary retirees who can scarcely get by. They want to increase ordinary pensions by GEL 10 and at the same time decrease the pensions to retired high ranking government officials. Presidential pensions will be changed to be the equivalent of ordinary pensions. The Democratic Front section of parliament opposes this new revision and has already begun a poster campaign to pensioners to protest for a system that takes into consideration the number of years one has worked in calculating how much pension one will receive at retirement. 

UK: The British Want to Save Their Pensions (December 1, 2005) 
(Article in French) 
2.2 million of British retirees live beneath the poverty line. That’s why the Turner Commission wants to raise the retirement Fund from 6.2 to 8% of the gross domestic product, which is still a lot less than in France or in Germany (12%). But such action requires that the pension system be reformed. It appears that the British will have to work longer to afford enjoying a decent retirement pension. That’s why Lord Turner wants to create a public pension fund that workers would automatically contribute to, in order to counteract many workers what he calls  “lack of foresight.” Will employers raise wages sufficiently to make possible such an additional contribution from workers?

Bulgaria: Pensions: The State Intends to Turn Up The Heat (December 1, 2005)

(Article in French)
The Bulgarian government is planning to offer a Christmas bonus to many pensioners, especially the elderly. Retirees who receive less than 100 leva per month (about 55 dollars) will get a larger Christmas bonus. At the same time, the government intends to reduce the number of unemployed people receiving pensions by putting them back on the employment market and fighting against unjustified advanced retirements.

UK: Key Proposals and Conclusions of the UK Pensions Commission: State Pension Reform (2005)
The UK Pension Commission released a landmark report to outline the future of the British pension system. The report called for a gradual increase in the retirement age to 68 and pegging state pension earnings to wages rather than prices. In addition, the Commission recommended the establishment of a National Pension Savings Scheme (NPSS) to increase pension savings for those who do not have access to a pension plan through his or her employer. Individuals would be automatically enrolled but have the option to withdraw. Employees would contribute 3% of earnings, employers would contribute 4% and the government would give 1% to the NPSS. Finally, the report called for increased protection of older persons under age discrimination rules as well as expanded training schemes for all persons regardless of age. The British public has met the Pension Commission’s suggestions with mixed reactions. Only time will tell if the plans will yield more financially stable retirees. 

Spain: New Retirement Figures Assuage Concerns Over Pension Crisis (2005)
Early retirement is popular in Spain. However, the number of people who choose to take early retirement has declined for the first time in three years. While the Spanish retirement age is set at 65, many decide to retire around 63 and continue to stay in the workforce while collecting Social Security. This amounts to an additional 100,000 euros per person in Social Security expenditures. Are partially retired Spaniards draining funds from their fully retired counterparts? 

France: What’s The Future of the Pension Reserve Fund? (December 2, 2005)
(Article in French)
The Pension Reserve Fund is under threat. Former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin created this administrative organization in 1999 in order to assure the payment of pensions to private employees after 2020. The Fund is supposed to reach a total of 150 billion euro by 2020. But its current 25 billion euro balance may interest the government for another use. Over the last three years the annual contribution of the State to the Fund has been reduced. These actions threaten the survival of the Fund which may not be able to reach its goal in 2020. Last November some French senators were close to eliminating the Fund. More, the elimination of the Fund could have very serious consequences on the Paris stock exchange, one of the most important in the world. The Pension Reserve Fund is today one of its largest French investors. 

UK: Blair Urged to 'Stand Up' To Brown (November 30, 2005)
Some members of the British government have expressed concern over a new proposal that calls for increasing the retirement age, ending means testing for pensions and creating mandatory pension savings plans. Members of the Liberal Democrat Party called upon Prime Minister Tony Blair to implement the reforms set out in the pension proposal, as Liberal Democrats speculate that Chancellor Gordon Brown will attempt to stymie the implementation of pension changes. 

UK: Britain Considers Raising Retirement Age (November 30, 2005)
In order to have an effective state pension and meet the demands of the population, Britain is making plans to raise the retirement age and to increase the minimum state pensions according to the Pensions Commission. By the year 2050, the life expectancies of elderly will increase for both men and women to 87 and 89 years old respectively. Approximately 10 million people of working age are not saving nearly enough for their retirement. If the Pensions Commission receives that okay signal, they will start implementing a new system whereby everyone will be automatically enrolled in the National Pension Savings Plan in which both employers and employees will have to contribute a fixed percent of their salary to their pensions; employers 3% and employees 5%. 

Russia: Stalled Pension Reform Threatens Bond Market (November 29, 2005)
Many Russians face a terrible dilemma because they do not know where to invest their savings. This leaves the Russian Government with too much cash. Young Russians do not trust the financial markets after seeing the financial crash in 1998; rather they invest in buying property rather than saving for their retirement. Inflation is reducing older Russian’s savings sharply. They are barely getting by on the state pension that only provides $80 a month (which is less than 1/3 of a regular salary). At the moment, the Russian government is deciding whether to allow the Vneshekonombank pension fund to invest in riskier assets and let private pension funds take larger responsibility of Russia’s pension. Whatever the decision may be, the main goal of this pension reform is “to provide a steady flow of long-term resources to our real economy, ” says the Pension Bund officials. 

UK: Retirement - A Very Modern Notion (November 29, 2005)
The retirement age in many nations is 65 years. This is the case in the UK. However, a recent report suggests pension reform should include an increase in retirement eligibility to age 68 over time. This article also explores some of the assumptions built into retirement at age 65.

UK: Charities Complain They Cannot Afford Pension Liabilities (November 28, 2005)
Pension funding problems further escalate when charities receive the final bill that states the millions of pounds that they owe to the Pension Protection Fund. Because of the increasing deficit, some charities fear that some services they provide will have to be cut in order to conserve some money. Charities pay a progressively rising amount to the Pension Protection Fund when the money could also be used to help those in need. Since charities do not have the ability to raise money the way corporate sectors can, they have asked for a “special status” from the Pension Protection Fund that would allow them to pay a reduced premium. What will happen to their employees at retirement?

UK: Small Business Alarmed at Nationalised Savings Proposal (November 28, 2005) 
Possible new pension regulations in the UK could cause significant financial constraints for small and medium enterprises (SME). A new proposal would automatically enroll all Britons actively in the workforce into a private pension. Individuals can voluntarily choose to opt out of the scheme, or if one decides to stay enrolled, he or she is required to pay in 4% of earnings. Employers would then be required to pay an additional 3% into the pension to match the employee’s contribution. The pension plan is aimed at increasing the savings rate. Statistics show that individuals working for SME’s tend to save less than those who work for larger organizations. SME executives see such mandatory payments as cost prohibitive, so much so that it may lead to layoffs or hiring freezes. 

Czech Republic: Government Fails to Have Up to 7 Billion for Pensions (November 28, 2005)
The Czech Republic will not be able to fulfill its health and pension obligations. The government projects it will be 4 billion crowns short on pension funds, and 2-3 billion crowns off to meet health benefit payments. Last year, the government decided to fund benefits by barrow money from the national postal system. As pension demands continue to grow, the government still needs to pay off the loan to the post office. Poor financial planning shortchanged the Czech people. 

UK: Marry Your Friend to Save Tax and Share Pensions (November 23, 2005)

The Civil Partnership Act that will take effect December 5, 2005 will benefit elderly people who live together. The country has been working on developing a new law for “gay marriages” so that they receive similar benefits as do heterosexual couples in regards to pensions and taxes. This new law will also allow friends to register as civil partners and receive the same financial benefits. 

Russia: Pension by Verdict (November 22, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation confirmed the right of local and regional courts to take action on the restoration of job service records. The decision came as a result of a complaint by a pensioner from a rural area. She asserted that she had worked on the collective farm in 1940s. The records of the farm no longer exist and the Pension Fund refused to pay compensation for that period. Although the local court satisfied her complaint, the regional court cancelled the decision, saying that it exceeded the local court’s commission. The case reached the Supreme Court, which approved the earlier decision. From now on, older citizens can fight for their pensions with the help of the courts. 

Czech Republic: Czechs ‘Need Parametric Pension Reform’ (November 21, 2005)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the Czech Republic to establish a parametric pension reform and to raise the retirement age. The IMF says that the current pension funds will not be enough for the older people in the country. The IMF wants prefunding of pension deficits by cuts to the government’s budget. The IMF says that this change will reduce the pension debt and increase the rate of return of the pension system. 

Ukraine: Government Will Develop Strategy for Pension System Reformation until December 1, 2005 (November 15, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Vyacheslav Kirilinko, vice-prime minister of Ukraine, says that Ministry Cabinet is currently developing a Strategy for further reformation of the Pension Systems for 2006-2016. The strategy points toward merging all pension legislation system so that payments to all pensioners would be organized according to a single principle. Currently there are 16 legislative acts that determine pension payments and the payments are differentiated according to jobs. The State budget is not supposed to supply money to the pension fund any longer.

Germany: German Pension Assets ‘Set to Surge to €4trn’(November 15, 2005)
Occupational pension assets in Germany are to increase by 4 trillion Euro over the next 25 years. Industry leaders also see a bright future for Germany’s private pension schemes. While private plans are expected to continue to perform well, not many Germans are enrolling in new private or corporate pensions. By the end of 2005, less than 40% of eligible Germans will have enrolled. Financial planners and government officials should consider ways to educate the public on the mechanics of retirement savings as a way to boost enrollment in private pensions. 

Malta: Increase In Government Expenditure On Social Security Benefits (November 14, 2005) 
Government expenditures on Social Security in Malta increased in 2005 by Lm8.1. Survivor and disability pension spending also increased by Lm.7 million and Lm.5 respectively. Malta experienced a net increase in retirement pension beneficiaries as well. Social benefits accounted for over 77% of Malta’s annual budget. 

Belgium: Pension’s Future in Question (November 14, 2005)
(Article in French)
Over the last few weeks the current governmental project called the “Intergenerational Pact” in Belgium has provoked many strikes, advocacy alerts and dire warnings as well as support and congratulations from various organizations, unions and people.
(Other articles in French available about this topic: 1 / 2 / 3/ 4). This article offers a brief unbiased synthesis of the issue and makes the debate clearer for citizens and observers.

Turkey: Retirement Age to be Pulled up in 2036 (November 14, 2005) 
Turkey joins the ranks of many other nations that have chosen to increase the retirement age. Government officials announced the gradual increase in retirement age would commence after 2036. Officials say that changes in the retirement age are necessary in Turkey to tackle the financial strain on public social security, pension and social insurance programs due to a growing aged population. The Turkish Minister of Labor and Social Security, Murat Basesgioglu, emphasized technological efficiency within the government bureaucracy as an additional way to control costs. 

Ireland: Pensions Board: Make SSIA Switch Tax-Free (November 13, 2005)
Ireland’s Pension Board recommends that workers should be able to move funds from Special Savings Incentive Accounts (SSIA) to pension plans without being taxed. The Pension Board hopes tax free transfers will encourage more people to save for retirement. Over one million workers opened SSIA’s since 2001. However, only 55,000 workers enrolled in Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA) after their inception two years ago. PRSA’s are aimed at increasing savings rates among lower income workers. Unfortunately, neither of these reform efforts have greatly increased the number of Irish citizens who have a pension. 

UK: Older, Wiser - And A Better Insurance Risk (November 12, 2005)
The British financial market tailors services to the over 50 population. Portman and Stroud & Swindon, two well-known names in the UK financial services industry, now offer savings accounts with special interest rates and privileges for older persons. Homeowner’s insurance premiums vary widely. However, analysts suggest premiums will go down over time, especially for those who are retired. 

Russia: Zunbarov Shows Results of Pension Changes (November 10, 2005) 
(Article in Russian)
Michail Zubarov, Minister of Health and Social Development and Alexei Kudrin, Minister of Finance, reported to the Deputies of Parliament about the results of Bill 122. This Bill significantly changed the system of social support in Russia. According to this Bill, former social benefits were converted to a cash value. Recipients had a choice to use the money for a social package that assured safe benefits or to take the cash instead. Alexei Kudrin, in commenting about the past nine months since the change, says, that in spite of the initial fuss around monetization “the majority of population in main regions of the country has chosen money. Thus, the citizens preferred monetization.” Zubarov also informed Parliament that in 2005 older persons in Russia will have 1,1 milliards rubles of additional support. 

France: Ministerial Press Release Answering Criticisms about Services for Dependent Elderly (November 10, 2005)

(Press Release in French)
Global Action on Aging focused last week on the vehement report from the French Cour des Comptes about the French administration's failure to care adequately for dependent old people. This press release from Mr. Philippe Bas’ office, French minister for the elderly, responds to this criticism with the current government’s policy changes affecting dependent elderly. He says that the French Government is putting more money into home renovations and into developing domestic medical services for the dependent elderly.

France: Vehement Official Criticisms of the Administration's Care for Older People’s Dependence (November 10, 2005)
(Article and Report in French)
The “Cour des Comptes,” the French institution responsible for controlling the administration’s expenses has denounced in an unusually severe tone the lack of administrative care for the dependent elderly. The report criticizes the “darkness,” the “complexity” and the “inefficiency” of a “non-coherent system” built by the “avoiding strategies” of the current and former Administrations. The Court says that seniors’ dependency should be considered the fifth risk protected by French social security. 

France: French Senate Committee for Social Affairs publishes its Report About Pensions (November 9, 2005)
(Article and Report in French)
The French Parliament is currently debating the social security budget for 2006. This report about Aging Pensions has been released allowing Members of Parliament to analyze current social needs. The report analyses the Swedish Pension’s Reform, promotes employment of seniors (over 55) and describes the current issues for the French Pension system.

Italy: Italian Pension Funds Agree Merger (November 3, 2005)
Two large pension funds for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in Italy merged, creating the first contractual occupational pension fund in the country. The Fonchim and Bayer Italia’s pension funds have similar investment strategies, encouraging a diversified portfolio in equities, bonds and cash. 

UK: Hutton’s Appointment May Delay Pension Reform (November 3, 2005)
John Hutton will be taking care of pension issues in the United Kingdom beginning immediately. Many feel that this is a setback to the UK’s pension reforms because it will take Hutton at least six months to familiarize himself with all the information and it will take time for him to have the trust of those who will support his actions. There are mixed feelings about Hutton; some think that he lacks skills compared to predecessor Blunkett while others feel that Hutton will be able to quickly adjust and be very efficient. 

UK:Could You Get By on £50 a Week? (November 1, 2005)
Women in the United Kingdom face big difficulties getting a full state pension from the government because they have not worked enough years in the workforce. Ann Greene (one woman among many who did not qualify for a full pension) tells her story about the embarrassing and intrusive process she needed to go through to claim the little pension that she was allowed to receive. Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett has put this means testing issue as a top priority for changer. His plan is to revise the country’s benefits and pension system.

Spain: New Retirement Figures Assuage Concerns Over Pension Crisis (November 2005)
Early retirement is popular in Spain. However, the number of people who choose to take early retirement has declined for the first time in three years. While the Spanish retirement age is set at 65, many decide to retire around 63 and continue to stay in the workforce while collecting Social Security. This amounts to an additional 100,000 euros per person in Social Security expenditures. Are partially retired Spaniards draining funds from their fully retired counterparts? 

Germany: Focus on Pensions, Health in German Coalition Talks (October 28, 2005)
Germany’s aging population continues to grow. That means current health care and pension budgets must expand to meet the needs of German retirees. Government leaders propose a gradual increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67 to curb increased program costs. Since there will be more retirees than workers over time, Germans may be faced with increased payments into the health care and pension systems to help pay for retirees. 

Germany: Germany About to Raise Pension Age to 67 (October 27, 2005)
Germany’s government is thinking about increasing the retirement age to 67 from the current age of 65. The purpose of this increase is to expand the workforce and ease the pension costs on the state. The government hopes to reach a decision by November 12th. Welfare and Pensioners’ groups argue that this is not a fair proposal since there are not enough jobs for the elderly. More, those who have been paying pension contributions have counted on leaving the workforce at 65 as a matter of right. If this new proposal is accepted, it will take effect starting in 2011.

UK: UK May Face €5.9bn ECJ Pension Payout (October 27, 2005)
Trade unions in the UK accuse the British government of neglect in fulfilling its obligations to thousands of workers who lost their pensions due to insolvency. Union activists have taken their case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), claiming the British government violated Article 8 of the European Insolvency Directive. Article 8 requires nations to ensure pensions are fully funded at all times. If ECJ rules in favor of the union and its members, the British government will need to pay out all pensions owed immediately out of the Treasury. The British government established the Pension Protection Fund in 2004. But for workers who lost their jobs and pension benefits in years’ prior, the PPF is too little, too late. 

Scotland: Half of City Workers Face Poverty-Hit Retirement (October 26, 2005)
The Edinburgh, Scotland, government sees that more than half the population is headed towards poverty when they hit retirement because they do not contribute to their future pension schemes. Based on recent statistics, the number of people not making contributions to a pension plan has increased since Labour came into power in 1997. Campaigners warn citizens that they must start saving for their future if they do not want to be poverty stricken. While some may not be eligible to qualify for a pension scheme, many others just do not invest in pensions. They say that they do not trust the system or fear fraudulent schemes or worry that the pension companies will go bankrupt. 

UK: Thousands of State Pensioners Are Struggling with Debt (October 25, 2005)
Age Concern calls attention to the greater number of older persons who are struggling with debt that is goes up everyday. With the increase of gas and electricity prices, it is very difficult for mid-life people to pay their bills and contribute to their pension funds. Age Concern is most worried about those people who are turning to loans and even credit cards with high interest rates to pay their current bills because they don’t have sufficient money. Later they will find themselves overcome with debt.

EU: Immigration 'Can Help Europe Support Its Ageing Population' (October 25, 2005)
European Union (EU) leaders estimate spending on programs for the ageing will increase up to 8% in most EU nations by 2050. The older population continues to grow, while the workforce shrinks due to demographic and economic shifts throughout Europe. EU officials see a need to change the labor market to increase productivity and reduce unemployment in order to support the increasing needs of a growing ageing population. 

France: The Government copes with the deficit of social security (October 25, 2005)
(Article in French)
The French government will have to go through another ordeal as the new bill about social security will be presented to the National Assembly. Emblem of the French social protection, Social Security will turn 60 this year. But its future is rather unsure. This year the deficit reached its zenith, with 11.9 billion euros. That’s why the French government is taking measures to reduce the deficit from 11.9 to 8.9 billion euros. But the Assembly will notice that the Government wants to stop reimbursing drug costs.

UK: Rate of Pension Closures Slowing (October 24, 2005)
British employers are closing final pension schemes to new members due to mounting costs. However, the number of pensions closed to new members dropped in the 2004-2005 tax year. Experts say the decline reflects moves by many employers to close or terminate pension schemes in previous years. Final pensions offer employees a fixed percentage of their salary. More employers choose to limit new membership into pensions due to high costs and market fluctuations. What will this mean for Britain’s future retirees? 

EU: EU Set for Clash on 'Anglo-Saxon' Versus 'Social' Welfare Models (October 21, 2005) 
European Union (EU) nations will debate competing pension and social welfare models. Many EU nations subscribe to a “social model” that provides substantial pension and unemployment benefits based on wage calculations. The “Anglo-Saxon” model, prevalent in the UK as well as the United States, promotes retirement benefits based on contributory pension systems. Critics of the Anglo Saxon model point to high levels of income inequality in the UK as an example of the system’s failures. Yet, nations with the social model in place tend to have high rates of unemployment. Academic experts say it is labor policies, rather than approach to pension schemes, that have the most impact on the economic climate of a nation. 

UK: Pensions Reform Urged As Millions of Women Face Years of Poverty (October 20, 2005)

Pension experts have concluded that women need to start planning for retirement in their early 20’s. Moreover, those mothers who take breaks from the work force should continue to pay into their pension plan or else face financial difficulties when they get older. Because many women put their husband’s financial stability ahead of their own, they are very dependent on their husband and rely on them for their future financial needs. Pension experts say the women with this assumption may end up losing much more if their marriage comes to an end because they put their whole savings into their husband’s, leaving them with nothing saved for themselves.

EU: Modernising Europe to Meet the Challenges of Globalisation and Ageing (October 20, 2005)
The European Union’s (EU) population over 65 will soar to 58 million by 2050. EU leaders recognize the need for changes in their individual health care and pension policies to meet the needs of older persons. The EU recently released a report that provides recommendations to member nations on how cooperation, along with changes within countries, can provide services for tomorrow’s retirees while remaining competitive in the global economy. 

European Union: EU Offers Pension-Friendly Proposal (October 20, 2005)
The European Union (EU) proposed a precedent setting rule to allow pension portability for workers who move between EU nations. Currently, it is not possible for EU residents to continue to build up a pension earned in one country if he or she moves to another EU nation. New EU rules would enable workers move their pension earnings with them. EU officials hope pension portability reform will encourage a more flexible labor market. However, the plan will take place over a ten-year transition period as it will be difficult to implement in EU nations with no private pension plans available. Pension portability can help future retirees strengthen financial security. 

UK: Women Face Pension Poverty (October 20, 2005)
British government officials recognize a need to change the pension system, as two thirds of the UK’s poorest retirees are women. Studies show that the current contributory pension system can treat women unfairly in their retirement years. Many women who take time away from the workplace to care for their family end up contributing less money into the pension system. At the same time only 31% of British women are saving for retirement independently. In addition to government reforms, women need to take more responsibility for their retirement finances to secure a decent standard of living in old age. 

UK: Women 'Facing Pensions Barrier' (October 19, 2005)
50% of British women stop saving for retirement after the birth of their first child. A recent study by insurance company Scottish Widow shows a strong correlation between a reduced employment history due to child rearing and a low retirement income. Experts say a “citizen’s pension” would improve the lives of older women, as such a plan guarantees a basic pension payment to all regardless of work experience. 

France: Actif Senior Plus: a New Employment Agency “for Seniors Only” (October 17, 2005)

(Article in French)
"Actif Seniors Plus" is a new employment agency in Paris to help seniors find jobs. This concept, originally from Netherlands, has captivated the French media . Encouraged by a recent French law that allows seniors to have a job during their retired years, such agencies emerged. This law led thousands of seniors to go back to work. As a matter of fact, the agency has been crowded since the day it opened. From the companies’ point of view, it is a good opportunity as “a freshly retired person who goes back to work is efficient from the very first day,” the agency director explained. 

France: IBM Wants to Rescue Companies Dealing with Pre-Retirement Baby Boomers (October 17, 2005)

(Article in French)
The American computer giant, IBM, just launched new services to help companies dealing with the baby boomers who will retire soon. As a matter of fact, IBM introduced new tools to help transfer all the knowledge and competence about to leave the company with the coming retirements. IBM wants to give other companies the diagnostic instruments to transfer this knowledge to the new hires.

Belgium: Prime Minister Says it is Time to Worry About Aging and Globalization (October 12, 2005)

(Article in French)
The Belgian Prime Minister presented his federal program to Belgian representatives on October 12, 2005. Guy Verhofstadt clearly insisted on the necessity to work toward intergenerational solidarity. “Two main issues are coming at the moment: globalization and aging,” the Prime Minister said. This article analyzes the way Belgian Prime Minister announced his intention to reform the national pension system. This change would add 8 more years to an employees’ worklife before having the right to a pension.

UK: Call to Scrap Means-Tested Benefits in North (October 11, 2005)
Northern Ireland officials are urging the UK government to end the current means tested state pension system for a universal senior citizen’s pension. Many seniors view means testing as demeaning, saying the questions violate their pride and privacy. A universal pension for seniors would give greater equity to women and those who may not have worked enough to qualify for an alternative retirement scheme. Changing the pension system is economically feasible, as a simple universal plan will save money on administrative costs that are currently incurred by the means tested program. 

France: Female, Old and Single: Triple Discrimination (October 7, 2005) 
(Article in French) 
In 65% of cases, an old French woman who lives alone means that she is poor. In terms of income, it’s better to be an old man than an old woman. At present, French women live to very old ages. They survive their husbands by many years. Most currently retired couples live on the husband's pension. After his death, the wife must survive on about 54% of her husband’s income, assuming that they were legally married. Retired men have an income twice as generous as older women. The situation is even worse for wives who were worked alongside their husbands without formal employee status. To prevent this discrimination, families and the government must encourage women to be financially independent. Further, they must stop discriminating against women in the workplace so women can have a fair chance to earn a decent living.

Norway: Norway Proposes Mandatory Occupational Pensions (October 7, 2005)
The Norwegian government wants to set up a mandatory occupational pension system law that would be put into effect starting January 2006. This new system is to provide safe pensions for all at old age along with the state pension rights from the national social security system. This occupational pension system will apply to companies that are both taxable and nontaxable with a minimum number of working years. It will also include a separate premium waiver that will provide for an old age pension in case a person becomes disabled.

UK: UK Further Delays New Pension Funding Standard (October 6, 2005)

The United Kingdom government is working on a new Benefit Scheme Funding scheme to replace the old Minimum Funding Requirements. They predict it will be put into effect on December 30, 2005. The new system was scheduled to take effect earlier, but was delayed to make the regulations meet the criteria of the European pension’s directive.

Ukraine: The Parliament Adopted the Legislation Proposed by Deputy Feldman (October 6, 2005)
(Article in Russian) 
On October 5, 2005, the Ukrainian Parliament finally adopted the legislation on “Adopting Changes for the Ukrainian Law on the Status of War Veterans and Adequate Social Protection Safeguards.” The new legislation stipulates that the social benefits for some categories of veterans of World War II will increase. According to one of the authors of the first legislative draft, the National Ukraine Deputy Feldman, the current law will actually deprive many veterans of the government benefits. 

France: Could Anybody Remind Me What the “French Social Model” Is? (October 4, 2005)
(Article in French)
While government pensions are at risk in France, the private ones are doing more than well. This good financial health of the private funds sounds quite surprising while “retirement” sounds unreal to young workers. This means the French system is currently splitting into two parts, it may also mean that there is no real “French social model” anymore. Could the reform the French government is currently planning save what used to be “the European social model?” No, the left wing answers, the government only postpones the debate to 2020. 

Netherlands: Netherlands’ De Geus Won’t Touch Pension Rights (October 4, 2005)
The Dutch Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus has refused to consider any revisions to the current pension rights system. Those who want to change the pension system to benefit the baby boomer generation have ideas that involve setting aside a separate fund of pension money for the different generations. Others believe that a collective pool gives better results and more security. De Geus finds individual pension plans undesirable due the revelations during the US debate on private accounts.

France: French Social Security. Aging Pensions Cross Red Line (October 3, 2005)
(Article in French)
The latest report of the French social security accounting commission (CCSS) highlights the growing deficit in the French social security system. “The main reason for this is the acceleration of the growth of pensions as a result of the increasing weight of anticipated retirements” says CCSS. This is the consequence of the former French minister of social affairs Francois Fillon’s decision to encourage those who started working early in their lives to retire earlier. Though intending to reduce unemployment, Fillon’s measure has a real cost for the French social security system. This decline should be reduced in 2006. More generally speaking, this change is a good sign of a double phenomenon: the French State is more concerned about aging issues but seems to be at the same time ignoring real needs to finance its policies. 

France: Retired Immigrants  "Vulnerable among Vulnerable" (October 2, 2005)
(Article in French)
The French radio station “France inter” interviewed retired immigrants from Algeria, after INSEE (French National Institute of Statistics and Studies) published a research on the subject. The entire interview dealt with this question: “Why don’t they go home?” which was also the heart of the INSEE research. Indeed, nothing had been written so far about retired immigrants in France who are quite invisible in the official figures. Understanding the immigrant reality goes hand in hand with the comprehension of their social, professional and parental situation. The study will help organizations that deal with immigrants’ retirement and have a real political impact. 

France: Economic and Financial Consequences of Aging (2005)
(Report in French)
In this short report, experts based at the French Ministry for the Economy analyze the economic and financial consequences of aging. For example, this report shows how aging may transform consumption habits and consequently the economic and productive structures of the country. The need for industrial products decreases while the need for services increases. Aging may provoke a slowdown of average productivity growth since productivity grows at a slower rate in the service sector. Service costs tends to remain high because productivity gains are not as important as in industrial production. Because older people consume more services than goods, because of the lower productivity rate in the service sector, and because pensions are indexed on average consumption prices (not on average service consumption prices), older people will see a decrease in their purchasing power. The report highlights the need to plan for this situation by encouraging older people to have additional private financial resources. The report also analyses the consequences of aging from the standpoint of pension policies.

UK: Retired Men ‘Will Live Until 90’ (September 29, 2005)
 Life expectancies have increased drastically according to the latest mortality survey. This extended life expectancy is primarily affecting those born in the mid 1930’s (a group who are often referred to as the golden cohort). The survey predicts that an average 65 year old man will live an extra three and a half years extending the age to 86 years and 7 months. If this extension of mortality age does happen, it will not be good news for pension funds, life insurance firms, and government. Funds are already strained which has made the government think about pushing back the retirement age to 65. 

 France: Only the Stock Market Can Save the Pensions (September 28, 2005) 
(Article in French) 
The biggest problem of pensions is the still decreasing number of workers for the number of retired people, says a journalist of the right leaning publication, Expansion. In 2025 the INSEE (National Institute of Statistics) predicts, there will only be two workers for every retired person. Previous governments used to balance the discrepancy by increasing the current workers’ pension contributions. But this was only postponing the moment to find a real solution, postponing the pain the journalist explains. In this way, the problem is the same in France as in the USA: less people paying contributions for more ever increasing pensions. But is there a solution to save the French system? Yes, Gilles Pouzin claims: pensions should be directly connected to stock market. Which leads in the end to another question: how to privatize all pensions without hurting anyone? The “transition will be hard”, Gilles Pouzin confesses. 

Europe: G-10 Chiefs Call For Consistent Pension Funding (September 26, 2005) 
Recently the G-10 heads of state, who represent the 10 leading industrialized countries, released a statement calling for a steady funding of pension plans worldwide. This article summarizes the meeting highlights including a call for more responsibility on the part of large corporations. The article notes that G-10 leaders feel that having steady retirement savings is essential to market growth and development. It is clear from this summary that the G-10 realizes that pension and retirement security are of vital importance to the world’s population. 

UK: Pensioners Strip on Brighton Beach (September 26, 2005) 

UK: How Bad Is the UK’s Pension Crisis? (September 23, 2005)
The United Kingdom has a pension crisis because there is just not enough money in the pension funds to give the working population a comfortable pension. Why? Pensiona greatly depend on the stock market shares which have been steadily falling for the last two years. This makes it difficult to repay policy-holders. Also medical advances permit people to live longer. The amount of money to put aside to have a certain retirement income is steadily rising. The government plans on making the minimum savings required higher with a lower level of state pension funds paybacks. Because more than 12 million people are not saving enough to for their retirement, the government is urging people to save more. Unless something is done, the working population’s retirement funds look grim with no guarantee of how much they will receive.

UK: Work Longer for Fairer Pensions (September 23, 2005)
The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has proposed a new pension plan by increasing the eligibility of receiving the state pension to age 69.  As of now, the pension plan is based on the National Insurance contributions but the newer system will not cost the government any more than what it pays now; and it will give citizens a more secure guarantee against poverty after retirement. This will be a fairer and simpler pension system because it will be beneficial for women, carers, and part-time workers who do not qualify for a pension plan today.  The key to receiving the state pension will depend on their residency in the United Kingdom .

Bosnia: The Anger of Retired People (September 23, 2005)
(Article in French)
Retired Bosnians have been fighting to receive their pensions for seven years. On the other hand, the government minister Vignjevic claims the “situation is not that bad.” In 1998, the government of Bosnia decided to reduce pensions by 39%. But the money saved through this policy actually disappeared. That’s why the Association of Retired People from Bosnia is fighting against the government and demanding explanations about the vanished pension funds and how to get them back. Currently, the average pension in Bosnia is about 125 dollars per month.

Europe: European Pension Directive Comes into Force (September 23, 2005)
After two long years of review, Europe’s pension directive is now published in the EU’s Official Journal and is finally being put into action. States will have 24 months to start implementing this new law. Some states have already notified the European Commission saying that they will put the directive into effect but officials like chairman Jaap Maassen are still apprehensive. In order to benefit from this new plan, it needs to be implemented efficiently and properly. The implementation of this new law will be closely monitored and will be reviewed at a meeting next year. They will also discuss the imperfections of the newly devised plan and make revisions accordingly.

UK: Pension Credit Plea for Unpaid Carers (September 20, 2005)

In an effort to pull women out of poverty in retirement, the UK Equal Opportunities Commission will be holding a meeting next Tuesday to discuss women’s pensions. They will talk about devising a plan to recognize women who do not qualify for the state’s pension plan due to having to take on care-giving roles in their homes. Statistics show that only 16% of women out of the whole population qualify for the basic pension plan that the state offers.

UK: Retirement Does Not Look Bright for Women Divorcees (September 5, 2005)
Women in the United Kingdom face many challenges as the government changes the pension system. Since women have less stability in their jobs because they take time out to care for family members, they most often suffer the most financially. And to make it worse, the number of divorced women over the age of 50 has dramatically increased causing the risk of poverty for women to be even higher. The UK pension law changed in 2000 which permits women to benefit from their ex-husband’s pension. Many of those who separated before 2000 missed this opportunity and are still suffering.

UK: Women at Risk of Retirement Poverty (August 25, 2005)
Nearly 45% of women over 50 admit that their main income will come from their spouse’s pension, thus risking retirement poverty in old age, UK researchers warn. One in seven women in this age group will be divorced by the time they retire. They will face financial problems because of lower pension provisions combined with the fact that many had sacrificed their careers, and therefore their own pension, to raise their families. UK Pension Reform Minister, Stephen Timms “accepts” the inequalities in the country’s pension and claims he will work to make the system work better for women.

UK: State Second Pension Pays More, Says FSA (August 23, 2005)
Financial Services Authority research has found that millions of people who were led to opt-out of the Second State Pension scheme lost money that they could have saved had they not left the system. The FSO has warned financial companies that they risk facing another investigation as a result. Many people who opted out of S2P were adversely affected by the stock market crash after the 90’s boom. Very few pension contributors were better off opting out.

Germany: Chaos in German State Pensions (August 19, 2005)
With elections looming in the wings, both the governing center-left coalition and the Conservative opposition have avoided confronting the issue of pension reform in their election campaigns. The current government’s pension changes have only covered the tip of this messy iceberg. The scheme will run a 450 million euro deficit in September as a result of record unemployment rates, diminishing cash flows, and changing demographics. The German pension system must undergo more sweeping reforms to save it from financial collapse.

Denmark: Social Democrats Propose Pensions Reform (August 18, 2005)
The Danish Social Democrats are proposing that the pension system remain unreformed until 2015, when the retirement age and early pension eligibility would be increased by two months for 10 years. The result would be a system whereby the age of retirement would be 67, with early pension eligibility starting at age 62. The Social Democrats are also seeking legislation that would require persons to be a contributing member of the unemployment fund for at least 38 years. This may potentially hurt people working in areas of academia, who entered the labor force late because of spending many years in school to earn their advanced degrees.

UK: Nothing Simple About Feeling Secure For A-Day (August 16, 2005)
The current requirement to buy an annuity with one’s pension fund at age 75 will soon be replaced by the Alternatively Secured Pension. These changes will go into effect on April 6, 2006, also known as “A-Day.” Proponents of the new regulation claim that there will be less chance after A-day that the pension fund will run out. However, the income will not be as secured as it seems. Critics argue that annuitants will only be able to take out less than 60 percent of what they could before the new regulation went into effect. Read this article for more information.

UK: UK Pension Gap ‘Worse That US’ (August 16, 2005)
After extensive research, AON Consulting has concluded that company pension plans in the UK are four times more likely to be under funded than their US counterparts. AON found that only five percent of British company pension schemes were funded in full last year, whereas twenty percent of plans were funded in the US . Pension deficits in the UK are also bigger than those in the US . AON states that some of these problems are attributed to the fact that British employer contributions are lower than the US .

Russia: Money Instead of Medicines: Almost 2.5 millions Pensioners Refused the Social Package. Why? (August 16, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
One year ago, the pensioners were protesting against the new policy that replaced the benefits with money, at the moment they are refusing the benefits that the government prepared for the elderly as a social package. Apparently this has a reason behind it: so far the benefits were offered at no costs, the current ones however, will have to be deducted from the pensioners pensions. The Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development informed that already 2.5 million pensioners from the Russian Federation refused the new benefits package. The numbers are increasing considerably and the massive “refusal” will have negative consequences and will annihilate the entire system of medical care for the elderly. The people are choosing to be paid money instead of benefits, as a result , says the author, everyone will begin to save on the medicines and the elder’s health will decline.

Germany: Brsch-Supan Calls for Semi-Mandatory Pension (August 3, 2005)
Axel Brsch-Supan, a Mannheim University professor, conducted a study for the German Institute for Retirement Provision that found that Germans underestimate the time they will spend in retirement, and more that half of all Germans do not have enough savings to counter the pension deficit. Brsch-Supan is a leading pension academic, and he suggests that the German government implement a semi-mandatory corporate pension plan. According to his plan, employees would be automatically enrolled into the company’s defined pension plans unless they opt-out. Many German pension experts support the notion of semi-private corporate pension but neither the Social Democrat-Green coalition nor the Conservatives do.

Germany: Germans Willing to Work Past Retirement (August 3, 2005)
The current rate of babies born in Germany is getting lower and lower. Thus, Germany 's aging population is expected to outgrow birth-rates. A majority of elderly Germans want to work past age 60 and be contributing members of society. This, however, is seen as a threat by many in Germany, where unemployment rates are high. The increase in the aging population is changing the way Germans have to save for their retirement. Traditional pensions alone will not sustain the younger generations as it did their grandparents. Experts now suggest private pension insurance to avoid old age poverty and live comfortably in retirement.

Denmark: Benefits and Pensions Lag Behind (August 2, 2005)
Pensioners and unemployed benefits in Denmark
have not kept up with inflation. They are presently 17 percent less then worker’s wages. The result is that those receiving pension and unemployment benefits do not have the same purchasing power as workers in the workforce; their money buys less and less as the years go by. This monetary gap has led to inequality in Danish society between those who work and those who used to work.

Russia: Retirement Age in Russia to Go Up (July 29, 2005)

The retirement age in Russia should gradually be increased, states Gennady Batanov, the head of Russian’s Pension Fund. There is currently about one and a half people in the work force for every pensioner. However, since working men are leaving work earlier and pensioners are living longer, there are not enough people in the work force to support the pension system in future years.

UK: Property Pensions Only For Wealthy (July 29, 2005)
Beginning in April 2006, pension savings can be used to buy property in the UK . The new pension rules would provide a tax break, hence enabling people to buy property more cheaply. The new law would also give the housing market a boost. On the other hand, most people would not be able to take advantage on the pension property tax break because they do not have the means. The government has admitted that this revision to pension policy would not be feasible for everyone, only those with large pensions. Therefore, while the well-to-do get a tax break that they do not need, those who would benefit most from it will be locked out of the deal.

Germany: Deficit Looms for German State  Pension Scheme (July 26, 2005)
will face a pension scheme deficit for the first time in two decades this September. High unemployment rates have left the pension scheme bereft of adequate funds for pensioners. Therefore German reserves have emptied to offset the difference. With 11 percent of the German population without work, the pension scheme cannot generate enough revenue on its own. Germany's chief pension adviser, Professor Bert Rürup, asserts that a higher retirement age is Germany's only way out of the 450 million euro pension deficit.

Spain: Social Security to Post Deficit in 2015 Without Pension Reform (July 22, 2005)
Spanish lawmakers are realizing that their Social Security system needs reform in order to prevent running a deficit by the year 2015. Spain's pension program has traditionally had a surplus that the government was able to use, but by the year 2015, there will be a 625 million euro shortage after benefits are distributed to pensioners. Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jesús Caldera reassured the public that the pension system will not be drastically changed and that the retirement age will remain the same. Widow’s pensions, however, will see big changes. The rules, argues Caldera, are antiquated and need to be modernized. Legislated at a time when Spanish society frowned on “working” women and divorce was illegal, these benefits must change now!

Cyprus: For the Health of the Pensioners and Unemployed (July 22, 2005) 
(Article in Russian)
The Committee for the International Federation for Labor’s General Secretary, Pambis Kiritsis, met with the Minister of Healthcare, Andreas Gavriilidis, to discuss the problems regarding the health of the pensioners and the workers. The main problems that that require immediate attention were: difficulties and problems that the pensioners encounter in the healthcare system, the criteria for pensioners qualified for health services outside of the country, and financial support for the state hospitals. In addition, they reviewed questions regarding the medical care for the unemployed and the requirements for the medical employees in the private healthcare sector. However, the political responsibility belongs to the government. The International Federation for Labor is waiting for the government to adopt a proposed law for a general healthcare plan. 

Russia: Salaries and Pensions Will Be Increased.  Holding Down Inflation Still Remains (July 21, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Russian pensioners needed higher pensions and welcomed them. Unfortunately, the small adjustment of the pensions did not match the actual expenses and living costs of the elderly,  says the analyst Irina Tsurina. The sad news:  The cost of gas will rise again, exactly when the farmers are harvesting their crops and using much fuel.  While the government proudly announces an increase in the pensions, not a single pensioner has a better standard of living due to inflation.

Czech Republic: A Taxing Issue (July 20, 2005)
There are fewer and fewer people to pay for pay-as-you-go pension system in the Czech Republic.This is a growing problem that, if not addressed, will leave future pensioners without a pension to live on. The two political parties have two differing views on how the transformation of the pension system should take place. The ruling Social Democrats support private accounts so that the people can control their own money while the opposing Civic Democratic Party wants a flat rate pension so that, rich or poor, everyone gets the same pension. With elections looming around the corner, politicians want to be careful when planning pension reforms that will be widely unpopular with the general public. In other words, they are playing politics and will not complete reform details until after the election.

Russia: A Third of Pensioners From Voronej Are Starving (July 19, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
256,500 pensioners will have to wait until the year of 2008, before their pensions reaches the minimum standard of living. The forthcoming increase of the pensions on August 1st will barely cover the losses from inflation, because according to the official statistics the increase equals the exact percentage of the inflation. Therefore the increase itself of the pensions is not real, it’s only an adjustment. More than 256,000 pensioners (one third of the total pensioner population in the Voronej region), receive less than the “official” minimum. Officials say that there is no hope for a better change earlier than 2008.

Czech Republic: October Deadline Set for Pension Reform (July 18, 2005)
Czech politicians are preparing for discussions concerning the pension system. Although the pension problem is not urgent right now, it has the potential of becoming a disaster in 60 years. The over 60 population presently constitutes only one-fifth of the Czech population. But in just over a half century that number will rise to one-third of the population leading to more people receiving pension benefits than those paying into it. There are five different party proposals to consider. Should the government increase the amount of GPD allotted to pensions? Should the retirement age be increased? Should benefits be slashed? How will pension changes affect the future older citizens of the Czech Republic ? We should have some idea by November 2005.

UK: IoD Calls for Retirement at 70 (July 17, 2005)
The Pensions Commission is currently considering proposals from organizations and think tanks concerning the current state pension scheme. One such group called the Institute of Directors , or IoD, recommends an increase in the retirement age from 65 to 70. This has been met with strong opposition from the People’s Pension Coalition, which seeks to keep the retirement age status quo. The Pensions Protection Fund’s proposal calls for financial penalties for companies not fully funding their pension plans.

UK: End This Obscene Pension Uplift (July 13, 2005)
There has been an outcry in Wales over pension benefits. Workers are condemning the unfair use of public funds to give certain council workers more years of pension contributions that they did not earn, especially now, during a pension crisis.
While ordinary workers must earn their pension, special consideration is given to particular council workers who are given extra pension money as a fringe benefit. The Caerphilly Council argues that that only those with extraordinary circumstances get added years of pension pay as a reward. Because the giveaway is cloaked in secrecy, the public does not know the full extent of the giveaway.

Russia: The Government Underpays the Pensioners of the Military the Amount of 1200 Rubles (July 13, 2005) 
The retirees from the military are not getting their pensions increased. Despite the fact that the Court of Law stated that the benefits for the militaries should be paid, the government refused to do so. The year of 2003 was the last year when the pensioners saw a benefit increase. Since then, inflation increased by 20%. According to the pension formula index, which is based on 20 rubles but in fact is 60 rubles, the government is underpaying each pensioner by 1200 rubles. According to the government representative, there will be no room for improvement in 2006 and veterans will continue to get the low payout.

Russia: Pensions From the Gain on the Oil Barrel (July 12, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
The Minister of Social Development and Healthcare announced at a meeting with the Russian President that pensions will increase beginning in August. It looks like the government decided to keep its promise to raise the pensions. Apparently there is no fear of inflation that the Ministry of Finance predicted.  The funds will come from the federal budget and the stable fund which grew due to high oil prices. Earlier, one vice president announced that the government will also address the government workers’ salaries. Healthcare employees, teachers, social workers, and other employees from the non-corporate world will have to rely on their local administrations. Furthermore, according to official statistics, the local administrations do not give a priority to increasing pensions.

UK: Older Women the Victims in Pension Form Fiasco (July 10, 2005)
If you have divorced since 2000 and are expecting a share of your husband’s pension, guess again. Many United Kingdom lawyers are making mistakes on the pension information forms costing divorces a share of their ex-husbands’ pension. As it so happens, these mistakes most often affect women. Although the Department of Constitutional Affairs has said it would change the forms to prevent more mistakes from happening, nothing has been done yet.

Russia: Give the Marine Veterans What They Deserve! (July 8, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
The Marine Veterans have to struggle continuously with the Pension Fund to get their funds. Members of the Russian Marine worked their entire lives in the severe climate of the Greater Arctic Ocean yet they get no benefits for working in such a harsh and hazardous environment. After long years of dispute with no results, the veterans decided to sue the Pension Fund and also write to the Russian president. Why do Russian sailors have to implore the government to get what they deserve?   

Russia: The Pension “Hole” – The Government Is Hoping to Suppress It Without Increasing the Retirement Age Yet (July 8, 2005)
The Russian Federation has a “The Hole” in its Pension Fund, due to a decrease of the only existing social tax. The pension system faces a paradox: on one hand there are no funds to cover the current pension payments; on the other hand, the government doesn’t know where to put its money safely. Much discussion focuses on the fund deficit. However the other issue targets the two percent pension fees that are collected for future accumulations of the pensions to be paid. So far, investment earnings on pension monies have been less than inflation. Some companies show even more on the investment principal. Apparently, the new pension “reform” cannot insure the preservation of the accumulation funds—nor can it manage to gain on their investments. These are the two main problems that the government is trying to find the solution for at the moment. 

Russia, Primorie Region: The Administration of the Facilities for Veterans- Violating Elder Rights (July 7, 2005) 
(Article in Russian)
On behalf of 17 pensioners, prosecutors from different cities and districts in the Primorie Region sued the elderly facilities that were charging illegally the elderly who lived there. According to the Office of Public Prosecutors, the facilities collected money from both the retirement pension and the disability pension accounts. According to the law, the amount of the monthly cost for using the veterans’ facilities cannot exceed 75% of the total amount of one pension received by the pensioners.

UK: Pensions Boss Warns We Will Have to Work Longer (July 4, 2005)
The British are simply going to have to work longer, declares Adair Turner. The UK government hired Turner to find ways to fill in the £27 billion pension’s savings gap. The government will implement a mix of higher taxes, higher retirement age, and more personal saving in order to fix the pension system, all of which spells trouble for current older citizens in Britain.

Latvia: July 1st Is the “Black Day” For the Pensioners (June 30, 2005)
(Article in Russian)

Starting July 1st, the costs for pensioners for any type of healthcare services will go up. At the last meeting of the Social Services Committee, the majority of the members voted to end benefits for the elderly that allowed for the pensioners to have free access to healthcare, including appointments with the doctors. The members of the committee explained that this change occurred due to the lack of funds in the local budget. From now on the city council instead of paying for sixteen days of hospitalization will only pay for five. Therefore the expense for one pensioner will decrease from 80 lats to 25, making a considerable difference. Many pensioners already have “saved” on their health. Daily, doctors must treat the elderly who arrive after a sickness has advanced because pensions do not allow them to ask for medical assistance when it is first needed. Is this a way to assure that old people die earlier?

UK: The Pensions House of Cards (June 25, 2005)
Starting with next April 6, 2006, the UK Government will allow residential property to be held within self-invested personal pensions (Sipps). However, Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on work and pensions, says that the plans will promote tax avoidance and should be canceled. The proposal to allow pension funds to invest in residential property means that a basic-rate taxpayer would be able to purchase a £200,000 home within a Sipp for just £156,000, with the Government paying the rest. Despite enthusiasm for these pension changes among the public, advisers and even Sipp administrators remain skeptical. One reason is that investors may put too much money into property, placing their pension funds in danger in case the housing market crashes.

Russia: The Lawsuit of the Pensioner Lydya Pravednaia (June 22, 2005)

(Article in Russian)
The pension story in the Russian Federation began February 1, 1998, with a new law on pensions in Russia . The Government assigned every pensioner an individual coefficient based on previous work experience and salary. The average salary in the country multiplied by the individual coefficient resulted in the pension amount the retirees were supposed to receive. Due to flaws in the law, the government employees ended up paying less to pensioners. Thousands of pensioners filed complaints and sued the government. Most cases were successful. After many unsuccessful attempts to get the money the government owed to her, Lydya Pravednaya from Novosibirsk , decided to seek justice at European Commission for Human Rights in Strasburg. Lydya Pravednaya won the case but since the amount that the government owed her were never specified, the battle continues.

Serbia: Serbs Plead With Govt Not to Push Pension Reforms (June 21, 2005)

The Serbian government seeks to cut Serbian pensions another 20% by 2009. 
Pensioners worry that they must bear the consequences of reforms being made for future Serbian membership in the European Union. The state argues that although pensioners have paid into the pension system, the state itself has had to subsidize the pension system because many companies default on payments. Nevertheless, analysts contend that in order for these budget cuts to do any good, the entire Serbian economy must be reformed. On the backs of the elderly?

Russia: Will We Make It to the Retirement? Or One More Time About the Increasing of the Retirement Age (June 20, 2005)

(Article in Russian)
Currently Russia is the only country in the world where the retirement age for men is higher than their average life expectancy. Aside from this fact, politicians are beginning to realize that pension reform was incorrectly planned. Today the main question centers on where to get the money for pensions. Workers don’t want to accept the new plan of making contributions to the Pensions Funds directly from their salaries. No Western European country, neither USA nor Canada , made such a radical decision to move from a state funded pension to a mandatory contributory system as Russia now plans. If a contributory pension system is abandoned then the workers must have the chance to save money for retirement.

UK: Pension Reforms "Spark Job Fears” (June 16, 2005) 

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) survey found that one in five firms will cut jobs if they are forced to pay into pensions for their employees. The survey covered 800 businesses and it also said over a third of the firms would have to freeze wage increases to fund compulsory payments. An estimated 12 million people are not saving enough for their retirement. In its report last year, the Pensions Commission said that a combination of higher taxes, higher savings and/or a higher-average retirement age was needed, however the BCC claims its survey showed that forcing firms to pay could cost jobs.

Ukraine: Party of Pensioners of Ukraine Demands Freezing Municipal Services Rates (June 8, 2005) 
(Article in Russian)
The Pensioners Party of Ukraine believes that the increase in prices for Russian gas as was recently announced will definitely lead to increases in municipal services rates (such as electricity, gas and water supply, and other house utilities). Therefore, they appealed to the President of Ukraine with the demand to freeze municipal service rates. 

France: A Lobby for the Seniors (June2005)
(Article in French)
The FIDES (Federation Interregional for Development and Employment of the Seniors), a recently created advocacy group, wants to influence French policy to stimulate the employment of older persons. Its main goal is to change society’s vision about older employees.


Russia: Work Longer, Die Earlier (May 19, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Ghenadii Batanov, Chairman of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation, announced insufficient funds to pay projected pension payments for 2005. The budget can cover the deficit as long as the price of the oil stays high and providing there are no other shortages in the treasury funds. It’s likely that the Russian Federation retirement age limit will soon become a reality. “The deficit in the budget of the Pension Fund in the Russian Federation will become even bigger if the allowance for the pensioners will be increased,” said Gh. Batanov. Nobody will name the actual figures for the existing deficit, since this is “highly confidential information.” However, it is known that the present deficit has hit its highest level for the last 5-7 years,” Batanov explained. Pension Fund monies are invested in very limited Russian bonds, stocks, etc., and the return is extremely low. Russian President V. Putin’s ambitious plan to double the pensions for the entire country by the end of the year 2008 now seems unrealistic. In order to accomplish this goal the government will have to either introduce a new tax or increase the retirement age limit. However, neither option will benefit the older population.

UK: Expats to Have Pensions Frozen (June 1, 2005)
The United Kingdom’s House of Lords adopted a new policy of reducing payments for the UK pensioners. Under existing legislation, UK pensioners who move abroad to certain countries have their pensions “frozen”, resulting in pensions that stay the same and no longer will increase with inflation. The Australian government labeled this practice as “unfair and discriminatory”. “British Pensions”, an organization and advocacy group located in Australia , encourages Australian citizens who have worked in the UK and paid to the UK ’s National Insurance system to respond to this “discriminatory” policy.

Russia: Installation of Telephones to Veterans is Completed in Orenburg Region (May 30, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Recently the Orenburg regional social security office installed telephones into houses of WW2 veterans. Nevertheless, it’s appropriate to note that all aged people need telephones --not only veterans. Many elders, due to objective reasons, did not participate in WW2 and not therefore ineligible for a necessity such as a telephone. 

Germany: Former Nazi Ghetto Workers Get Cheated – Again (May 28, 2005)
According to German law, Jewish survivors who worked in the ghetto are entitled to a German pension. But most requests have been refused so far - in some cases on absurd grounds. Will the last survivors get their due from the German government?  

UK: Professionals Face Higher State Retirement Age (May 23, 2005)
Will the United Kingdom establish different retirement ages for working class and professional workers that account for the current 4 year difference in their life expectancies? Seeing a political hot-potato, Tony Blair wants to delay discussion until after the next general election. Critics point to the current “means-tested mess of a pensions system” that is sustaining the current crisis.

Estonia: Minister of Social Affairs: We are Indebted to Pensioners (May 12, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
The State of Estonia State owes its pensioners because the low pension benefits allow the State to spend money in other spheres for unsuccessful ventures, ” said Yak Aab, the minister of Social Affairs. He also underlined the ruling coalition’s important legislative proposals about pension growth. According to these proposals, the 2005 pension will increase by 434 kronas and in the first half of 2006 by 282 kronas. 

France: The Debate on the Pensions of Foreign Veterans is Reappearing (May 7, 2005)
(Article in French)
Like Tahar Saim, 700,000 foreign veterans who fought for France have today a very insufficient pension. Indeed, with only 57 euros per year, this Algerian pensioner still must crusade for a pension equal to the one of the French veterans who receive 427 euros per year. Having justified this inequity on the basis of different standards of living in the countries, the French Government must now think seriously about this huge injustice. The longer the Government delays, the more likely the aged veterans will die.

UK: Women Still Snared in the Pension Trap (May 5, 2005)
Age Concern states that one in four women will be in poverty at old age. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) “argues that discrimination against women is inherent in our pension system and therefore it must be replaced by one that works for women as well as men.” Because women usually take career breaks to care of children and/or other family members, they do not get the chance to build up their pensions for retirement; in addition to that, their salary level is well below men’s making it difficult to have invest money for retirement. Many changes have been proposed in order to treat women better than the small amounts they receive now. But will they be adopted?

Azerbaijan: Pensioners are Facing Poverty (April 29, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
“I buy bones meant for dogs, boil them, and then make soup, just to get the taste of meat,” says a pensioner in Azerbaijan. Despite recent raises in pensions, the majority of almost 1.3 million pensioners still live well below the poverty line. A sharp increase in gas and electricity has taken nearly all their pensions. Now older people have to depend on their relatives’ ability to provide for them. Most pensioners forgot about medical services and treatment long ago. They even forgot about eating a healthy diet. The elderly who do not receive any additional compensation, such as payment for being disabled or forcefully displaced in times of war, feel especially impoverished. Many choose to work in order to avoid misery. But this seems hardly a solution: working pensioners receive only half the compensation package they are normally entitled to. It is sad that after 40 or more years of work, pensioners are forced into this “social injustice.” And it is especially disturbing, considering that many economists of the country contend that the current government is quite capable of resolving the issue.

Russia: Pensions of Russian Elders Allow Them to Buy Only Food (April 24, 2005)

(Article in Russian)
According to the survey conducted by “Social Opinion” foundation, Russian pensioners have money only for food and partially for housing payment. Answering the question, “what can you buy on the pension?” 80% of elders answered - “only food products”, while 61% said “enough to pay for housing services.”

Russia: Pension Reform Must be Started Again (April 20, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Pension reform in Russia had two aims. First, to solve the fundamental issue of population aging, and, second, to pool long-term financial resources to invest in the Russian economy. For different reasons, these problems were left unsolved, and new ones appeared. Therefore, there is now a strong need to embark on another pension reform effort, one that will lead to real and meaningful results.

UK: UK Workers Without A Pension Reach 12.7m (April 11, 2005)
Citizens face a real crisis in the UK pension system, above all since they saw Labour put in a partial privatization. The proportion of working adults with no provision for retirement rose to 45 per cent in 2003-04. Almost 13 million people will have to live only with the minimal state pension. If we also take a look at several financial scandals in the private sector, we can say that Briton’s elderly face a tough “patch,” perhaps lasting until they die.

Latvia: To Die or not to Die? (April 7, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Latvian elders are expecting a new blow after the “reform” of the health care system. Starting from July 1, 2005, the citizens of Latvia are not allowed to go on pension before the official pension age. The attempts of the political opposition and trade unions to prolong the currently existing law that allows retirement before the official pension age were not successful. Sejm commission representative A. Klementiev believes that indigent citizens will suffer most. 

UK: Blair Has Pensions Bill Ready (March 31, 2005)
Britain’s pension crisis will be a substantial part of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s agenda. The prime minister’s last term will be dedicated to a slough of legislative reforms which will include a conscientious effort to smooth out the crinkles of Britain ’s problematic pension plan. Taxpayers may fund the shortage of £57bn in pensioners’ funds as Britain ’s life expectancy has increased while savings and investments for retirement have not.


Russia: Will Pensioners be Eliminated as a Class? (March 26, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
World Bank experts strongly recommended to the Russian government to increase the retirement age of Russian citizens. In the report, “The expenses of structural reforms in Russia ,” they emphasized that without additional reforms the current system of pension security would not be able to bridge the gap between wage growth and pension levels leading to economic catastrophe. However, the author of the article thinks that increasing the retirement age would be inhumane way to solve the issue. One of A majority of older workers would be dead before retirement age; Russian men now live only until 59 years old. Women who die at 73, on average, would have only a few years free from the workplace. Surely there are other ways to approach this issue! Let’s look at the World Bank’s retirement policies for its workers and professionals as a first step!

Ukraine: Deputies Confirmed the "Budget of Timoshenko" (March 25, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Verhovna Rada of Ukraine has voted for the project of law "On bringing changes in Law of Ukraine to the state budget of Ukraine for 2005 year". Practically all the deputies consider this a great success in the social part of budget. The minimum pension will grow from 295 gryvnas to 332 gryvnas. An average pension will go up to 383 gryvnas, while now it is only 315 gryvnas.

France: Douste: The Easter Monday Day of Solidarity Won’t Produce Enough Funds to Support Elderly (March 17, 2005)
(Article in French)
Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French Health Minister, said recently that the Easter Monday day of work for solidarity won’t produce enough revenues to support dependent elders in France due to the increase in life expectancy.

UK: Britain and Chile, Lessons for Revamping Social Security (March 14, 2005) 
As the US weighs partially privatizing Social Security, other countries have lived under similar systems for decades. US citizens can learn from them that the system talked up by Bush is not a great idea to resolve any pension problems. Compared to the current Social Security system, it’s even a real disaster.

UK: Pensions Panic: Any Way Out? (March 11, 2005)
With Britain in the grip of an increasing panic about pensions, politicians and policymakers are desperate for a way to avert a long-term meltdown. 
At £79.60 a week, Britain's state pension is one of the lowest in the developed world. Could privatization of their social insurance account for this?

Russia: Peterburg Pension Funds are Waiting for Help (March 3, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Pensioners have to overcome many bureaucratic procedures that the Pension Fund imposes that makes their lives very complicated. For instance, pensioners must register for the new pension conversion. But they face long lines – some pensioners arrive at 3 AM in order to have a chance to get served in the office before closing time. They also find offices without air conditioners and other facilities along the long corridors to make the wait more comfortable. In fact, an old man died out of heart attack just in front of the door after standing many hours in line to get his pension certificate.

France: French Are Met With Old Age (February 28, 2005)

(Article in French)

French society doesn’t seem ready to cope with the increasing number of older persons. Two years after the scorching heat that killed many older persons in France , there’s more and more worry about old age, according to a poll done by the Sofres for the Hospital Federation of France, and published by the Express. But worry must translate into action.

Ukraine: Minister of Labor and Social Policy Promises Help on Child Birth and New Life for Pensioners Starting from April 1. (February 25, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Vayacheslav Kirilenko, the Minister of Labor and Social Policy, says that: “pensions will not be lower than the living-wage and this living-wage will be defined each four months ensuring the defense of pensions from inflation.” From April 1 the pension will be differentiated for the 5 million most vulnerable elders: the disabled, war veterans, and people who live in difficult conditions. During the second part of 2005, pensions will be differentiated for the remaining 8 million pensioners.

Ukraine: Ukrainian Reality: Pensioners- Millionaires! (February 18, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
As it has turned out, pensioner-millionaires have begun to emerge in Ukraine . New millionaires join this list every day. The Ex-president and ex-government officials are among the richest pensioners. 
The Pension Fund stated that it had nothing to do with those pensions since they are paid from the State budget. Nikolay Tomenko, vice prime minister, considers these “elite” pensions to be a serious problem and says that the new government will have time to address this issue. 

Norway: Norwegian Central Bank Calls for Pension Changes (February 18, 2005)
Because of lower than expected tax revenues over the last few years, but also because of unemployment, the governor of the Norwegian central bank, Svein Gjedrem, wants to change the pension system. Here is a difficult and awkward thing to do.: a lot of Norwegians survive thanks to social security incomes, such as disability pensions or early retirement.

Sweden: Sweden's Take on Private Pensions (February 12, 2005)
Sweden seems to be a good example of how introducing private accounts to finance pensions is difficult. Since the introduction of this new system, everything has become very complicated. Older persons are exposed to a risky situation, and very often they are anxious without guaranteed benefits of Social Security. They do not feel comfortable with managing their retirement money. Other countries, such as Britain , Chile , and Poland know the same difficulties than Sweden , and all these models offer important lessons for the United States .

France: How Do We See the Retirement? (February 8, 2005) 
(Article in French)
It's interesting to see how the French perceive their retirement: what are the desires and priorities that they take into account. We learn that the favorite age to retire is 55. The first concern is to stay independent in case of illness.

France: French Estimate that 1586 Euros Are the Necessary Income for the Needs of a Retired Menage (February 8, 2005)
(Article in French)
A study done by GFK for Axe says that French people save less money for their pension than the inhabitants of other European countries, and two times less than Americans and Australians. 

Russia: February Without Revolution (February 4, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
The replacement of services for older persons with money allowances has put the authorities into the classical Marxist situation as follows: "the lower sections of society do not want, and the upper crust cannot." Is a new February revolution possible in Russia ? The authors of the article draw some conclusion after three weeks of protest actions. The pensioners gained an increment in pensions. It was planned to increase its basic part by 12 percent in 2005, which was to be implemented in two stages - on April 1and August 1. Now this increase will take place on March 1 and would amount to 36.5 per cent. The average basic pension will increase from 600 to 900 roubles a month. The increment will amount from 225 to 1,200 roubles a month, depending on the category of a pensioner. Another concession involves senior tickets from February 1 or March 1 in the regions. But can the pension allowance buy what was previously free-health, transport, housing, etc.? What will the Russian elderly settle for? Their lives are at stake.

Russia: President of Bashkiria Republic Supports the Protests Against Monetization of Benefits.(January 29, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Many protest meetings took place in reaction to the monetization of benefits in Bashkiria Republic as elsewhere in Russia . Murtaza Rahimov, the President of Bashkiria, demonstrated his support of such actions and protests calling them a "natural reaction." He says that a different approach must be taken to determine the compensation level to different categories of elderly and disabled people who formerly had public benefits such as free health care, transportation and housing. 


Russia: Thousands of Retirees Protest Russian Pension Cutbacks (January 16, 2005) 
A thousand retired people tried to block the road to a Moscow airport Saturday as 10,000 others jammed the avenues in President Vladimir Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg to voice their anger over a law that stripped them of some key welfare benefits. It was the largest show of discontent since the Kremlin leader took power nearly five years ago. 

Russia: Thousands in Russia Protest End to Soviet-Era Pension Rights (January 15, 2005) 

Thousands of Russian pensioners took to the streets of Saint Petersburg, Moscow and elsewhere to protest withdrawal of Soviet-era benefits, denouncing what they called Vladimir Putin's "criminal" reforms. Replacing free transport, health care and housing are small checks to allow older people to purchase these key items. A war on old people? 

Ukraine: Where to get 12 mild. For Pensioners? (January 12, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Pavel Gaidytcky, the head of the Department of Economic Planning says the new Ukraine government must find 12 milliards Hr. to make the country's law "On obligatory state retirement insurance " a reality. This law also establishes an additional payment - 1% each year of extra work. Gaidytcky underlined that the law does not say anything about where to get money to put this law into effect.

Georgia: Arrears of Pensions is 18$ in Georgia (January 6, 2005)

(Article in Russian)
Georgia has something to be proud of! The Georgia Social Insurance Fund during the first part of this year is planning to pay off pension debts which are currently more than 35 mil. Lari (around $18 million.) Up until 2004, the total amount of pension arrears was 130 mil. Lari (around $75 million.) During last year the Fund was able to pay out 95 mil Lari (more than $50 million.) 

Russia, Chechnya: The Government of Chechnya has Determined Living-Wage (January 6, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
"What am I supposed to do with these 300 roubles?" A 67 year old citizen of Groznuy, the capital of Chechnya , is among many other people frustrated over the obviously insufficient amount of money compensation for previously free public services. He calls it a mockery and humiliation upon people. "Initially the amount of compensations was set to be 550 roubles but the ministry of finance has cut this sum to 300 roubles per month,"says an official of Chechnya ministry of labor and social development. Misery ahead!

Ukraine: Government has Given 2 milliard Hrivnas to Pension Fund (January 6, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Nikolai Azarov, currently acting as Prime Minister, says that the government has given 2 milliard Hrivnas so that the Pension Fund could pay out pensions. At a ministry cabinet session, Azarov also underlined that the government had sufficient resources to finance all social payments in January. He did not speak to the remaining months of the year.

Return to Top of Page

Middle East


Yemen: Woman and the Age of Retirement (December 17, 2005)
(Article in Arabic)
Retirement age is a very critical issue. Many people in the Arab world fear it. It makes them feel hopeless, worried that their roles in life have ended.  It is particularly difficult to face when workers know that they are still able to perform their duties as they have done in the past. In Yemen , becoming a retiree is considered as a nightmare, especially for women who retire at the age of 55 (5 years before men). The retirement laws applied in this society do not favor women.  Many women have had little access to education in their early life and they are likely to live longer than men.  They need to have access to paid work.


Qatar: Banker Stresses Need for Global Pension Reform (November 13, 2005)

(Article in Arabic)
At a meeting organized by financial services giant, ING, and the Doha Bank, the general manager of Doha Bank, R. Seetharaman, urged a global reform of pension funds and the reform of the distribution of funds so that retirees can receive maximum returns. He said that in order for changes to benefit society, several areas need to be revised. Seetharaman suggests a private sector management of pension funds where the economic objectives will determine investment strategies instead of political objectives which often can not be relied on for best distribution of capital and highest returns on savings. He stresses that “it is extremely important to understand and realign the social benefits towards self sustaining models, reducing the stain on State.”

Algeria: Retiree’s Purchasing Power Is Diminishing (November 1, 2005)
(Article in French)
“Like active workers, retirees’ purchasing power is decreasing,” says Mr. Azzi, general secretary of the Algerian Federation of Retirees. Reasons for this decline include the fact that some older people are giving financial help to their unemployed adult children however taxes remain the same as active workers. According to the federation, the balanced national pension fund will allow the creation of a minimum guaranteed pension for thoses who paid into the system only for the period of 15 years.

MENA Region: New World Bank Report on Pension in the Middle East and North Africa Region Suggests Changes (August  25, 2005)
(Article in Arabic)
According to the World Bank report on pension systems in the Middle East and North Africa region, only 5% to 10% of elders in this region get a pension. The report claims that this p
ension is very generous. Most countries mentioned in the report follow a pension system that was created in late 60’s and early 70’s. The report tries to show that these countries offer large pensions to a small number of elders. However, with increased numbers of older people living longer, it is necessary to make changes that will offer pensions to more persons.

UAE: Pension Benefits and Omani Older Persons (July1, 2004) 
(Article in Arabic)
The Public Association of Pensioners organized, along with the Oman Oil Company, has organized a seminar about the pension benefits that serve Omani older persons. The article also details how it is managed by the three parties.

Kuwait: Prime Minister of Kuwait Opens a New Building for the Association of Social Affairs and Social Security (May 1, 2005)
(Article in Arabic)
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, the prime minister of Kuwait, has launched the new building for the association of social affairs/social security benefits, on behalf of the prince.
Sheikh al-Sabah said that the country has tried really hard, since the fifties, to establish a good system for social security to secure people’s financial well being especially the retired, the elderly, the physically challenged or for families of the dead benefactor. The prime Minister has said that social security is indeed based on Islamic merciful teachings, the sayings of the prophet Muhammad and the morals and customs of the Kuwaiti citizens. The government, according to Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, has worked really hard for thirty years, to secure social benefits for those categories of people. The system also includes all other categories of people (civil servants, military people, blue collar individuals, and also those who run their own businesses). This aims at the promotion of social justice morals and principles that should include all individuals.

Iraq: New Increases in the Salaries of State-Workers and Pensioners in Iraq (March 7, 2005)
(Article in Arabic)
The financial assembly in the Iraqi Planning ministry has launched a detailed research project to solve the pension problem that Iraq faces today, which affects two million people. The Division of Social Security has established a way, according to the duration of work and the number of family (dependent) members, to calculate individual pensions.  However, people in the private sector have not been included in this plan since they receive their salaries from the Social Security administration.

Egypt: Pension Apprehension: Lawmakers Want Worker Pensions to Pay Down Government Debt (August 5, 2005)
The Nazif administration has added LE600 million to the Social Insurance Fund budget, which will raise the poorest Egyptian’s pension by LE20. More than half a million families will be helped by this move. However, critics contend that the entire Egyptian pension scheme needs serious reform in order for pensioners to be lifted out of poverty. Lawmakers in Egypt are currently taking money out of the LE174 billion pension fund to relieve government debt. As a result, many Egyptians who have paid into the government pension system receive substantially lower benefits than they are owed. Now many Egyptians are refusing to contribute to the government pension scheme. Is this a sign of the beginning of the end of the Egyptian pension system?

Lebanon: World Bank Study Decries Lebanon Pension System (July 11, 2005)
World Bank recently criticized Lebanon ’s pension system, calling it insufficient and inefficient. Lebanon ’s pension program covers only 26 percent of the population, and the main problem exists in the private sector. Workers get a lump sum pension instead of monthly payments and are sometimes left abandoned when companies do not have the funds to pay out pension fees. Although the Cabinet approved new pension reform legislation, the Parliament did not approve it. Possible remedies for this problem include a cut in public spending, higher taxes, and a slight decrease in worker benefits. While there are built-in dangers in the pension system, the Lebanese government also faces many difficulties in increasing taxes and cutting other citizen benefits while the country is in an unstable condition.

Israel, Knesset: The Fight for Returning the Pensions for Israeli Repatriates, Now at the Governmental Level (June 15, 2005)

(Article in Russian)
The Knesset Commission on absorption voted to create a subcommittee that would re-establish social and retirement rights of elderly repatriates. Its initiator, the deputy Roman Bronfman, who is also the person in charge for re-establishing the pensions for repatriates from the former Soviet Union countries heads the subcommittee. This action moves the issue to a higher juridical and official level. Many believe that the chances are good for new citizens to get their pension accumulations from the Former Soviet Union countries.

Middle East: Demographic Data on Middle East Aging Populations
While the current elderly populations make up about 5% of many Middle East countries, there will be substantial change over the next 45 to 50 years. By 2050, about one-quarter of the population will be over 60 years in Bahrain , Kuwait , Lebanon , Tunisia , and the United Arab Emirates .

Azerbaijan: Pension Reforms Are Carrying Out In Azerbaijan (April 16, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Salim Muslimov, Chairperson of the Social Security State Fund reported on the preparation of a legislative bill to create a new pension system in Azerbaijan. Some 
1,336, 729 pensioners are looking forward to establishing social justice in the country.

Israel: Old Age Pensions to Fall 15-20% (April 13, 2005)
In Israel, the Ministry of Finance’s capital markets, insurance and savings division, plans to reduce pensions for the third time in three years. The reduction comes following a revision of actuarial assumptions that govern pension payout. 

Qatar: Adjustment in Pension (May 8, 2005)
(Article in Arabic)
The number of older persons is increasing in Qatar. The Al Doha Global Assembly on Aging discussed this issue, particularly how elderly can be involved in national development programs and how their experience can be used to reduce the costs of the society. 

Kuwait: Prime Minister of Kuwait Opens a New Building for the Association of Social Affairs and Social Security (May 1, 2005)
(Article in Arabic)
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, the Prime Minister of Kuwait, has launched the new building for the association of social affairs/social security benefits, on behalf of the prince. Sheikh al-Sabah said that the country has tried really hard, since the fifties, to establish a good system for social security to secure people’s financial well being especially the retired, the elderly, the physically challenged or for families of the dead benefactor. The Prime Minister has said that social security is indeed based on Islamic merciful teachings, the sayings of the prophet Muhammad and the morals and customs of the Kuwaiti citizens. The government, according to Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, has worked really hard for thirty years, to secure social benefits for those categories of people. The system also includes all other categories of people (civil servants, military people, blue collar individuals, and also those who run their own businesses). This aims at the promotion of social justice morals and principles that should include all individuals.

Azerbaijan: Pension Reforms Are Carrying Out In Azerbaijan (April 16, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
Salim Muslimov, Chairperson of the Social Security State Fund reported on the preparation of a legislative bill to create a new pension system in Azerbaijan. Some 
1,336, 729 pensioners are looking forward to establishing social justice in the country.

Israel: Old Age Pensions to Fall 15-20% (April 13, 2005)
In Israel, the Ministry of Finance’s capital markets, insurance and savings division, plans to reduce pensions for the third time in three years. The reduction comes following a revision of actuarial assumptions that govern pension payout. 

Iraq: Old Age Pensions (March 22, 2005)

The woman minister in charge of Iraqi pensions announced recently that payments to retirees began to be issued on March 20, 2005, for the first three months of 2005. The post offices distribute pensions in Iraq .

Iraq: New Increases in the Salaries of State-Workers and Pensioners in Iraq (March 7, 2004)
(Article in Arabic)
The financial assembly in the Iraqi Planning ministry has launched a detailed research project to solve the pension problem that Iraq faces today, which affects two million people. The Division of Social Security has established a way, according to the duration of work and the number of family (dependent) members, to calculate individual pensions.  However, people in the private sector have not been included in this plan since they receive their salaries from the Social Security administration.  

Return to Top of Page



World: A Look At Pensions Plans Worldwide (November 30, 2005)
Ever wonder how other nations structure their state pensions? This is an informative and concise round up of major pension plans from across the globe. 

World: Does Early Retirement Resolve the Problem of Unemployment? (November10, 2005)
(Article in Arabic)

Many governments worldwide try to have their old employees retired early in order to have openings for young workers. This procedure does not resolve the problem of unemployment but it makes companies loose staff who have long work experience. Employers would have keep old personnel and request them to share their knowledge with youth instead of making them leave after many years of continuous hard work. Unfortunately, retirees find themselves obliged to look for new jobs to be able to survive after an early retirement.

World: Public Pensions Go More Private, OECD finds (November 8, 2005)

Private pension packages are now starting replace publicly financed pension plans according to a study recently released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) . OECD says more state pension plans are moving towards partial or full reliance on private, defined contribution pension schemes. Powerful financial interests have persuaded governments that they cannot meet the pensions costs of a growing aging population. However, it is unclear that private investment of public pensions will greatly benefit retirees. 

World: Holy See's UN Address on the Year of Older Persons (October 6, 2005)

The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations recognized the important role of older persons in society during a session of the UN General Assembly. Archbishop Celestino Migliore noted that the protection of pension rights along with a basic social pension are effective ways to promote income support to older persons. 

World: World Bank, OECD to Study Global Pensions (September 26, 2005)

The World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have agreed to examine how efficiently funded pension schemes are enforced in economies. Taking into consideration that private pension companies are receiving trillions of dollars, they would like to make sure that their clients are receiving their fair share of the pension funds. The data collected in this research project will be extremely important because it will be used to assess if the private pension systems are fulfilling their intended purpose.

World: Poor Old Things (June 29, 2005)
A recent World Bank study of pension policies across the world shows that many countries are unprepared for the huge demographic shift. Across the world, people are living longer and having fewer children. In Europe, calls to push back the retirement age are widely disliked. But in poorer countries, most people want to go on working because there are few retirement benefits. In the poorest countries, the pension systems simply cannot deliver current and future benefits at the prevailing contribution rate unless the fund is replenished through taxation, or unless benefits are cut in the future. Countries designed systems assuming that a larger pool of workers would make contributions for a small pool of retirees, and retirees would not live long after retirement. But that assumption has broken down everywhere. Find more detailed information on issues related to aging in Asia and Europe in the full version of this article. 

World: Intervention by Fiona Clark, Policy Officer for HelpAge International to UN General Assembly Informal Hearings with Civil Society for the Millennium Summit Review (June 23-24, 2005)
In anticipation of five year Anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), some Civil Society Representatives had the opportunity to address or intervene at a June 23-24 Session of the General Assembly. Aging activists have long been disappointed that the MDG’s did not contain a specific reference to aging. Fiona Clark, from HelpAge International had a brief statement that she managed to introduce on June 23. Here are her comments. 

World: Around the World, People Ask: What Will Retirement Be Like? (May 24, 2005)
Notions of retirement are changing. Today, in a lot of countries, people want to work as long as they can, and retire as late as possible. As longevity increases and once-certain financial cushions become less secure, many people are afraid to stop working. It’s particularly true for women, for whom retirement is “an inaccessible dream” according to a new survey by the Heinz Family Philanthropies and the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement.

World: Old-Age Income Support in the 21st Century: An International Perspective on Pension Systems and Reform (2005)
World Bank Director of Social Protection Programs, Robert Holzmann, suggests a five level system corresponding to the resources of the person: at the bottom, a non-contributory pension or social pension for those who are the poorest of the poor; next a contributory system linked to earnings; next, a mandatory individual saving account; next, a voluntary program such as pensions from individual employers, defined benefit and defined contributions, and finally family intergenerational and other support, such as housing. 

World: How Much Money Do You Need From Your Pension? (March 3, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
In this first person account, the author says, "I have done research on pensions. In the research, I found that many people are not clear about planning budgets for themselves when they are old. However, when I showed them a simple calculation on budgets, they started thinking about it."

Return to Top of Page



Social Pensions

Social Pensions: Bolivia: The Bolivian Government Will Pay the Bonosol Starting January 3rd (December 30, 2005)
(Article in Spanish)
The Bolivian government has announced that it will be paying the Bonosol, an annual bonus of 225 US dollars directed to the elderly, starting this January 3rd. The pensions’ agency is in charge to regulate and distribute the funds, $103 million, which will benefit about 460.000 old persons. Bolivians above 65 years will be able to collect their Bonosol after the date of their birthday. Veterans, veterans’ widows and the disabled will have preference. 160 bank agencies and financial cooperatives across the country are prepared to make the payments. This year the government is implementing a new identity-control system, based on biometrics. The funds for the Bonosol come from the Capitalization Fund (Fondo de Capitalización Colectiva) first created after the oil companies’ reforms in 1996. 

Social Pensions:China:Why We are Losing Faith in Social Pension (December 29, 2005)
At present, China
's social pension fund gap has widened to RMB 2,500 billion. A  recent study showed that 90% of the people surveyed expressed concern over life after retirement. Fifty-seven per cent feel that extra savings will be needed in order to have a relatively decent retirement life.  Thirty-seven percent believe that their quality of life will decrease after retirement. Pension experts say that the government’s pension agency must regain credibility with the Chinese population. 

Social Pensions:Mexico: Mexican Official Promises Pensions For Elderly, Predicts 4 To 4.5 Percent Growth (November 30, 2005)
The head of the presidential office of public policy, Eduardo Sojo, stated that with the growth of Mexico’s economy, they will be able to offer pensions to the elderly in 2006. Along with the pensions, the country plans to launch programs that will give housing loans to millions of self-employed or extremely poor who do not qualify for the government’s benefits currently.

Social Pensions:Africa: Help Age Report: Making Cash Count (November 2005)

This study from Help Age International and Save the Children elucidates the problem of poverty among children in southern and eastern Africa and how it affects the elderly in their society. Even though Botswana and Lesotho are rich and poor countries (respectively), they both have non-contributory social pensions. Many of the adult children of the elderly have passed away because of AIDS resulting in the elderly caring for the grandchildren. Grandparents are the most common carers of orphan children even though there is extended family. Because grandparents do not have the funding to support their grandchildren, many are living in poverty. That's why this study calls for “unconditional cash transfers” to promote a ‘progressive’ social protection agenda. Social protection is important because it includes such a broad range of programs like pensions, family allowances or child benefits, school feeding programs, and health insurance. The childhood poverty problem for the present generation will also lead to poverty for the next generation unless some changes are made to interrupt the poverty cycle.

Social Pensions: Swaziland: Relief for the Elderly as Pensions Go Up (November 21, 2005)

The government of Swaziland has decided to raise the pension for everyone over the age of 60. The 60% increase comes because the government realized that the needs of elderly are increasing due to the deterioration of welfare, a declining economy, and caring for grandchildren whose parents have died or are sick with AIDs. The AIDs epidemic has brought life expectancy down from 46 to 36 years old resulting in younger family members who cannot support elderly parents. Some elderly say that this pension increase will not last long because the cost of living like transportation and other goods are so expensive. Nevertheless, this is an improvement which shows that the Swaziland government recognizes the value of its elderly citizens.

Social Pensions: Mexico: Fidel Provides Benefits for Elderly (October 21, 2005)
(Article in Spanish)
Of the 240,000 adults over 70 years of age living in Veracruz, Mexico, over 75,000 receive no type of social assistance, according to Fidel Herrera Beltrán, the governor of the state. Yesterday, as part of the new pension program in Veracruz, Beltrán gave out three hundred checks to as many elderly persons, continuing an ongoing effort to dramatically reduce the number of elderly citizens without pension benefits. The program, Asistencia a los Abuelitos Veracruzanos, will lend assistance to elderly citizens of Veracruz who have demonstrated that they receive no government aid, and Beltrán maintains that all who receive benefits under the program will enjoy an improved quality of life and the financial means to cope with medical ailments brought on by ageing. Currently, 7,127 elderly citizens of Veracruz receive the program’s benefits, and Beltrán stated that he intends to increase this number in the coming year. With less that 10% receiving benefits now, there’s a long way to go!

Social Pensions:India: Bottom-up Evaluation of Non-Contributory Social Protection Policy for Rural Labourers in India (October 2005)
The Chronic Poverty Research Centre based in the UK recently released a report evaluating the effectiveness of non-contributory social protection programs on the poverty levels of workers in rural India. The study points out differences between effective implementation strategies and program outcome. In the case of rural Indian workers, the study shows the implementation of non-contributory social protection schemes increase the power of local powerbrokers over rural workers. At the same time, social protection plans tend to help reduce poverty levels of rural Indians. Experts caution that government officials may try to influence outcome indicators. 

Social Pensions: Africa: Pensioners Will Get More in 2007 (October 20, 2005)

When the DTA leader Katuutire Kaura asked for an increase of monthly pension for the elderly during a debate in Parliament, the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Alpheus Naruseb expressed how he is aware that many elderly rely on their pensions to live each day and feels that a holistic approach needs to be taken to undertake the issue of poverty, not just a small increase in their monthly pensions. While it will not solve poverty as a whole, for the time being, the pension increase for older persons was granted and will take effect starting in 2007. 

Social Pensions: UK: Call to Scrap Means-Tested Benefits in North (October 11, 2005)
Northern Ireland officials are urging the UK government to end the current means tested state pension system for a universal senior citizen’s pension. Many seniors view means testing as demeaning, saying the questions violate their pride and privacy. A universal pension for seniors would give greater equity to women and those who may not have worked enough to qualify for an alternative retirement scheme. Changing the pension system is economically feasible, as a simple universal plan will save money on administrative costs that are currently incurred by the means tested program. 

Social Pensions: Mexico: Government Grants Money to Thousands of Elderly Persons to Pay for Food (October 7, 2005)
(Article in Spanish)

More than three thousand elderly adults in Chihuahua, Mexico, will soon receive government monetary benefits that they may use to pay for food, clothing, and other necessities. Of the approximately 3,500 elderly residents of Chihuahua set to receive these benefits, over 90% of them already possess the official card that they need to access the money to which the State Government has entitled them. To qualify for the benefits, a person must be at least 70 years old and present a birth certificate and some form of photo identification. This monetary benefits program reflects the efforts of Chihuahua’s government to provide the city’s elderly with the money they need to lead a comfortable and healthy lifestyle, which, without some form of government support, becomes elusive once age has forced them out of the work force.

Social Pensions:Russia: While City Pensioners Want Social Protection to Continue, Others Choose Cash (September 27, 2005)
(Article in Russian)
By October 1, Russian pensioners must choose between a social protection package and monetary compensation. The first option includes subsidies on prescription drugs, sanatorium-and-spa treatment, and suburban transportation. The second is simply cash. Whereas Moscow pensioners give preference to social protection, pensioners from rural areas and those with disabilities, rushed to the offices of the Pension Fund to get money instead. Rural pensioners still remember the chaos associated with receiving prescription drugs in regional pharmacies. They also never heard about or took advantage of free sanatorium-and-spa treatments. The article offers various arguments for and against the social package for different categories of pensioners.   

Social Pensions: Mexico and Brazil: New Thinking About an Old Problem (September 15, 2005)
Conditional Cash Transfers to poor families help reduce poverty in some Latin American nations. In Mexico and Brazil, over five million families receive such a benefit in each country respectivly. Families qualify for Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) based on their income level and in some cases, on the condition that children are enrolled in school or receive regular health services. Typically, the cash transfer is made to a female head of household, who is sometimes an older woman. CCT programs provide enough money to impact a family’s quality of life without discouraging regular employment. Between 2000 and 2002, the per capita poverty rate in Mexico declined after a CCT policy was implemented. In addition, the Conditional Cash Transfer programs have translated into improved nourishment, health and education for children. 

Social Pensions: China: Difficulties Facing Social Pension System (September 1, 2005)
(Article in Chinese)
Compared to western industrialized countries, China has a relatively larger proportion of elderly and the population is aging at a much faster pace as the result of the Chinese population policy. While the nation is still on the road to economic prosperity, the lack of a sustainable social pension system is likely to make the road even bumpier. 

Social Pensions:Africa: Ageing and Poverty in Africa and the Role of Social Pensions (August 2005) 
In this working paper the United Nations Development Program’s International Poverty Center and the World Bank discuss the role of social pensions for the increasing numbers of impoverished elderly in Africa. Both agree on the need for social pensions to lift elderly and, in many cases their grandchildren and families, out of absolute poverty. Unclear, however, is the best way to deliver such assistance. The paper favors targeted pensions only to the poor with an eligible age limit at 65+ as opposed to universal non-contributory pension to all elderly 60+ or 65+. But while it acknowledges the needs of “more country specific work” to identify the poor among the elderly, the paper doesn’t specify the means for poor countries to conduct such work.  

Social Pensions: Mexico: Mayor of Mexico City to Run for Presidency (June 28, 2005)

After evading a bitter impeachment battle, the Mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has formally announced that he will give up his position as mayor on July 31st in order to run for the 2006 Presidency of his country. Describing himself as a “humanist,” Obrador has achieved global notice by focusing heavily on the elderly in Mexico,providing them with free and beneficial healthcare and a social pension amounting to $64 a month. With thousands of seniors in full support, Lopez Obrador already leads the opinion polls in Mexico  and is significantly favored over his challengers.  

Social Pensions:China: Report Finds Over 70% of GuangZhou Citizens Expect Government to Accelerate the Development of the Social Pension System (June 15, 2005)
GuangZhou Social Opinion Research Center recently carried out a survey about GuanZhou citizens’ satisfaction with the pension system. The report found that 72% of the interviewees are concerned over what amount the pension system can guarantee them when they retire. About 40% of the interviewees think the maturity of pension system is not comparable to the economic development in the same region. They hope that the government will devote more funding to the pension system to secure employees’ retirement life.

Social Pensions: Malaysia: Social Pension for the Elderly (June 1, 2005) 
Retirees are asking for a social pension in Malaysia. Some developing countries already have a social pension so the much richer Malaysia has the capacity to institute an old age security income for women, family and every older person who needs it. “No one at old age should be deprived of food and shelter as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” says Lum Kin Tuck, president of the National Council of Senior Citizens Organisations of Malaysia (Nacscom).


Copyright © Global Action on Aging
Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us

                                                                                                          Copyright © Global Action on Aging
                                                                                                    Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us