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Pension: World

Archives: 2003

India: Contributory pension system: Approach with caution (December 23, 2003)
The population of India is increasing, and as in other countries, getting older. By 2016, the number of Indians above age 60 is expected to be 113 million. This is an average of 8.9 per cent of the population. That’s why the government is considering a reform that the author says must be supported. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment worked on a national project called the Oasis project (The Old Age and Income Security) that would deal with savings over the life times of workers and unorganized labor.  A key issue will be whether such savings should be invested in equities which have proved volatile in the US and Europe.  The author also points out the social inequity of using public resources to “bail out” private pension funds in times of economic downturn.  Another consideration is the location of the contributory pension administration that will affect the economic growth of its host city.  

Malaysia :
Pension fund not short of money, says minister (December 23, 2003)
In Malaysia, the Employees Provident Fund (APF) suffered from the Asian crisis and many contributors worried about their pension benefits. The Second Finance Minister, Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis guaranteed that the EPF had enough funds for all its contributors’ pensions. It’s a relief for the 10.4 million contributors, but they continue to worry about new proposals  that would affect pre-retirement withdrawals.  

Mexico: Sindicatos celebran alza a pensiones del IMSS (December 22, 2003)
(Article in Spanish)
Mexican union leaders praise an eleven percent raise in the Social Security fund. If this eleven percent increase continues to climb steadily, lives of older Mexicans will get better. 

Expats Go to Court Over Pension Dues (December 22, 2003)
In Russia, new pension contribution rules call for taxing foreign employees. This seems unfair since foreigners who work in Russia are not eligible for the pension benefits when they retire. Some international companies based in Russia asked the court to clarify the situation. Most foreign workers are also taxed in their home country. In fact, most of Western countries use rules to prevent the double taxation. But Russia doesn’t have any international agreement on this point. Russian Finance Minister, Natalya Komova, explains: We have to tax the foreigner employees since one day they may assume the Russian citizenship and then demand a pension. 

New Zealand: More work-based retirement saving schemes needed, says taskforce
(December 22, 2003)
The New Zealand Periodic Report Group recommended that the government create a Special Advisory Group to encourage workers to participate in retirement savings programs that could be transferred from one job to another. In fact, New Zealand workers do not save enough and with the baby boom retirees taking their pensions, the situation will become worse.   By asking for Financial Advisors aimed at low and moderate income earners, it is unclear if this will be a “privatized” effort or not.  Perhaps low and middle income workers simply need higher wages so that they have money to save.  Economic growth, the authors contend, will boost saving.  

Australia: Millionaires on Pension Row (December 20, 2003)
Using a scam, Australian millionaires can use a do-it-yourself pension fund to create structures that enable them to easily pass the means and assets tests and claim the full age pension in Australia.  At the same time, multimillionaires are using the self-managed pension to legally shelter large parts of their fortune in a pension reserve that can be used to provide for the next generation.

United Kingdom: Brussels raises pressure on pension plans (December 22, 2003)

The new European Union rules may force some United Kingdom pension plans to close. In fact, the new rules aimed at having pension schemes financially available at any time. This means a huge cost for the employers.  Also firms may decide to close their schemes to new members. The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) worried about the consequences on the retiree population and so does the Trade Union Congress (TUC). The Department of Work and Pensions officials said the interests of NAPF will be taken into account.  Who will speak up for those who are “closed out” of a pension fund as they come into the workforce or transfer to a new job?   

Czech Republic: Insurer Ceska pojistovna buys 70 % stake in ABN Amro pension fund (December 22, 2003)
A major change in the Czech Republic’s pension system. The Ceske Pojistovny pension fund, the largest private pension fund of the country, has just bought 67per cent of the ABN Amro Penzijni fond (ABN PF) pension fund. No change is currently predicted for the 216,000 clients of ABN.  The firm says it wants to improve services and assets of its clients. The Czech Anti-Monopoly Office (UOHS) and the Finance Ministry must approve the transfer from ABN to CP.  However, we wonder if private monopoly and distant ownership will be positive, in the sense of serving older persons’ financial needs responsibly. 

Zambia: Kafumukache Refuses to Sign Zambia Sugar Pension Scheme (December 20, 2003) 
The recently privatized Zambia Sugar Company (now owned by Ollova) must come up with an account of pension contributions that workers have already made to their pension system.  Until this is done, the Labour minister, Lt Col. Patrick Kafumukache, will refuse to sign the new pension scheme of the company.  The Lt. Col. is also concerned about occupational health and child workers in the sugar cane process.  The Labour Minister says that retirement is a death sentence without a pension.  He considers his nation as wealthy enough to improve itself through economic development, with privatized companies’ profits contributing to job creation and education of the population.

France: Calcul des Pensions, Rachat de Cotisations: la Loi sur les Retraites se précise (December 17, 2003)
Article in French
In France, five decree projects were given to the National Fund for Retirement People to make the new pension law called « loi Fillon » effective. The new measures will give pensioners a 3% increase in pension benefits for employees working over 60 years old, a better situation for pensioners who contributed to more than one pension fund, an increase for small pensions, an increase for each year spent educating children and the possibility to buy back years of contribution.

European Union: IASB may allow use of UK rule on pensions (December 17, 2003)
The European Union listed companies have to use international accounting standards beginning in 2005 that affects pension schemes. The choice of the standard is an important point and under debate now. The International Accounting Standards Board has to choose between two standards: the IAS 19 and the FRS 17. The IAS 19 allows companies to smooth out gains and losses over a couple of years. This existing international pension rule distorts the reality of a deficit in any single year, according to Sir Tweedie. The FRS 17 is the British model. The balance reveals gains and losses immediately. Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the IASB, is supporting the British model, but it’s not clear what the Europeans will decide to do. PIC

United Kingdom: Veterans pension scheme attacked (December 16, 2003) 
The British government wishes to cut the level of pensions paid to the armed forces to offset the expected annual rise in payments. The reform would also put back the age at which veterans would start receiving their pensions. These changes are unfair, some members of Parliament argue, and are going to make veterans worse off.

United Kingdom: Pension payouts for lower-paid workers hit by tax changes (December 15, 2003)
The Engineering Employers Federation warned that the British government's reforms designed to simplify the pensions system could affect people with small occupational pension savings. If a policyholder dies within five years of starting to draw their pension, the remaining savings entitlement would go to their widow or widower since pension schemes guarantee five years’ worth of pension. However, it would be subject to a 35 per cent “stealth tax.” The reform package appears to have unintended consequence which will hit lower paid manual workers particularly hard as they are statistically much more likely to die within five years of retirement than people paid more or with easier work lives.

United Kingdom: Will Britain repeat US mistakes? (December 14, 2003)
The British government is proposing a new Pension Protection Fund modeled after the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The PBGC might represent security in retirement for many Americans but now this quasi-government body is facing a financial abyss due to the growing number of insolvent companies. The US government backs up the PBGC with public funds in case of problems. But any bailout means that all taxpayers have to pay for the pensions of failed corporations, perhaps 20% of the workforce. Is this fair? The Brits will have to decide how to do it. 

United Kingdom :State pension to rise from April ( December 11, 2003 )
British Work and Pensions Secretary, Andrew Smith, told Parliament that state pensions will rise in line with inflation and extra help will be given to the poorest pensioners and to those with savings. However, the pension credit, created a couple of months ago, did not benefit all those eligible for it. The system by which pensioners can receive credit is too complex according to the Conservative opposition.

United Kingdom :The Parent Trap ( December 10, 2003 )
The British chancellor, Gordon Brown, issued a pre-budget report containing surprises for parents, entrepreneurs and pensioners. One of the aims of the government’s new proposal is to simplify the tax regime for pensions. The draft paper focuses on greater flexibility within annuity rules, opportunity for people to take a pension much earlier and limit the maximum pension benefits available at retirement. The chancellor hinted that the current state pension scheme was "sustainable" compared to other European countries and to stay this way, state pensions will remain low in the future. 

United Kingdom : Taking steps to restore faith in pensions sector ( December 7, 2003 )
British policymakers are wrestling with the pension system since it is under the strain of an ageing population, the three-year fall in equity markets and the closure by companies of hundreds of pension schemes. The British government intends to introduce legislation to protect workers’ retirement funds and guarantee a decent pension if their companies go bankrupt. The first step in doing so was the creation of a pensions commission. Employees, with the support of the Trades Union Congress, are pushing for the introduction of compulsory investment into pension plans to avoid poverty in old age while business groups such as the Confederation of British Industry are opposed to this idea.

Italians flock to pension protest ( December 6, 2003 )
Huge crowds of workers and pensioners gathered in Rome to protest against the Italian government’s pension reform. Unions say the reform is unjust and ineffective, and they are refusing any further dialogue until the government withdraws the proposals. The crowd also protested Berlusconi’s economic policies, which some say erodes the welfare state by favoring the wealthy.

Great Britain : Baby boom or pension bust ( December 1, 2003 )
British people are living longer, but that good news means bad news for Britain ’s precarious pension system. To ensure that all pensioners have enough to live on, British policymakers are looking at multiple reform options, each fraught with political controversy.  Workers could work longer, companies could pay more taxes, the state could compel people to save, or, as this article suggests, the Brits could just start having more babies.  

Non-contributory pensions and poverty prevention: A comparative study of Brazil and South Africa (December 2003)

A comparative study of non-contributory pensions, published by Help Age International, provides evidence of how non-contributory pension programs affect the well-being and the security of older people and their families. An international team of researchers studied non-contributory pension programs in Brazil and South Africa and found that the programs had a positive effect on bringing households out of poverty. This innovative program could help other developing countries in the future. 

Germans debate benefits for elderly ( November 30, 2003 )
More than 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Berlin this month to protest against Germany ’s first pension cut and a rise in nursing-care insurance fees for the elderly. With these measures, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder hopes to plug a funding shortfall and start addressing the challenges of an aging population. The long-standing “contract between generations” is increasingly under threat in Germany , while younger people challenge older people to abandon some benefits to keep the system from collapsing.

Brazil shakes up pensions ( November 26, 2003 )
The Brazilian Senate has approved a major overhaul of the pension system, reducing the generous benefits paid to retired public servants. The system had favored the small minority of Brazilians who worked for the public sector, contributing to Brazil ’s deep social security deficit.

Great Britain: Company pensions to be protected (
November 26, 2003 )

The British government will introduce a Pensions Bill to protect workers’ retirement savings. Under the current law, thousands of workers lost their life’s savings when their firm went bankrupt. The new bill will secure workplace pensions and reduce the complexity of the system. However, workers who have already lost out will not be compensated.


Why are retirement pensions under attack? ( November 17, 2003 )
In most Western countries, pension systems to support older citizens are under attack.  In a period of ascending power among the rich, the most powerful have targeted pension systems that benefit ordinary persons for “reform.”  This article, while steeped in the language of socialism, spells out some of the fundamental issues. The author, a journalist for the World Socialist Web Site, believes that “ruling elites” are making working people pay for the problems of the profit system. As he rightly points out, individual pension plans that invest in the stock market eliminate the conception of an old age pension being a social right.   Betting on the stock market casino becomes the unhappy alternative.

Workers' pension fight continues (November 24, 2003)

United Kingdom: A bill to protect people who have company pensions is likely to be in the Queen's Speech on 26 November. But workers who have already seen their pensions disappear may not receive help. BBC News Online talks to one worker who is fighting for his pension rights.

Russia: Elderly yearn for Soviet-style stability from poll (November 19, 2003)
Svetlana Babichenko sells fur hats to top up her pension – a far cry from the stable retirement she was promised under communism. That, for her and millions of elderly Russians like her, is the sole issue in the December 7 parliamentary election. "When you've got bread but no butter, you do all you can to get the butter," she said, shivering at her market stall. Babichenko, 77, is one of Russia's 29 million pensioners who were among the biggest losers when the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 propelled Russia into capitalism and a free market. They gained political freedom, but lost cheap food, rent and state benefits. They can only shake their heads at newspaper reports of Kremlin wrangling with "oligarch" businessmen who made billions of dollars in the 1990s sell off of state property. Babichenko, once a factory-hand, has resorted to selling the hats along with husband for sheer survival.

British Airways flies into pensions black hole Easy Jet’s profit falls by 28% but it still expects to overtake BA in Europe (November 19, 2003)
British Airways has to put in extra money in one of its pension fund or find different ways to cut costs. Employees fear they might see their retirement benefits reduced. The company remains committed to its pension plan but has nonetheless opened talks with unions. British Airways is one of the latest British employers that has to face pension fund difficulties.

Koizumi's pension reform dilemma ( November 19, 2003 )
The Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, wonders how to reform the national pension system before the government compiles the fiscal 2004 budget, end of December. The reform would keep pension premiums under 20 percent of annual income and maintain pension payments between 50 percent and about 55 percent of net annual income for the average worker. Businesses are opposed to raising premiums because they contribute to half of it and they want more flexibility in a time of international competition.

Japan ministries disagree on pension reform (November 18, 2003)
Japanese society is worried about supporting retired workers with pensions and how to increase consumer spending.  It appears that the plan to cancel an income tax rebate in order to finance future pensions is dead.  While a consumption tax could raise funds for pensions, the public does not want to spend—they want to save for their pensions in the future.  And business does not want to sacrifice its profits.  A capitalist dilemma!

Pensioner tax plan abandoned ( November 18, 2003 )
Hampshire County Council offered elderly voters a rebate for part of their council tax but the plan was abandoned. It appears that pensioners themselves opposed having the rebate since it would have pressed more taxes on low-income persons and reduced children’s educational opportunities.  

More Oldies To Quit UK ( November 18, 2003 )
About one million British retirees live outside the UK and this figure is supposed to grow even more by 2020. Better climate and pace of life, lower living costs, social advantages offered by governments trying to attract them and their income, and growing exposure to foreign culture encourages this old age migration.


一企業勞資科長冒領死人錢兩 年“吞”了7萬多(2003年11月17日)Enterprise Payroll Official Took 70,000 Yuan Pensions in Two Years (November 17, 2003)
Liming Zhang, Chief Payroll Official at Huzhou Hardware Factory, took 73,155.3 yuan worth of pensions in the name of four dead ex-employees. Zhang is sentenced for three-year imprisonment for fraud. A judge believed that the fraud could be avoided if the factory had an effective monitoring and management system over payrolls and pensions. As a matter of fact, Zhang was able to control all the steps in payrolls and pensions, which made it very easy for him to commit the fraud. (Article in Chinese)

Pension covers 'hardly anything,' retired Mozambican pastor says (November 14, 2003)
Retired United Methodist pastor Joco Tene Ngale never saw a self-sustaining pensions system in his home country of Mozambique. He died just weeks after meeting with a fact-finding group studying the feasibility of standardizing pension support for United Methodist clergy and other church workers outside the United States. The church in Mozambique provides pensions to its retirees, but the depressed economic system causes the amount to vary. Ngale, who served 35 years as a pastor and district superintendent in this southeastern African nation, was receiving a pension of about $100 a year at the time he spoke to members of the United Methodist Global Pensions Task Force and other visitors.

企業年金制度可讓 養老金翻倍國家立法兩年難產(2003年11月13日)Enterprise Pension Plans Will Double Retirement Benefits (November 13, 2003)
Last year, officials of the China National Labor and Social Security Bureau said that the regulation for enterprise pension plans was expected to come into force soon. But after over a year, the regulation is still pending. If enterprises provide pension plans for employees and pension fund managing companies invest the funds well, retirees will be able to receive extra income from enterprise pension plans apart from the social security pension benefits. (Article in Chinese)

Ethiopia: Pensions of Former State Employees Doubled (November 11, 2003)
International aid organisations on Tuesday welcomed a government decision to double state pensions, but warned that more had to be done for Ethiopia's elderly. Peter Bofin, the head of HelpAge International, said that whereas the move was a positive step, it was noteworthy that about 3 million old people in the country were receiving no pension at all. Ethiopia's 411,000 or so pensioners have now seen their state pensions doubled to US $11 a month, but the recipients are all former government and state sector employees.

United Kingdom: Don't bet on houses for pensions (November 11, 2003)
Rampant house price inflation has given British people a false sense of security about their future retirement funds, discouraging them from saving, says Association of British Insurers’ director-general Mary Francis. Francis argues that people may suffer from their over-optimistic outlook if property is not worth as much as they expected by their retirement years. 

United Kingdom: Pension credit 'got off to a good start' (November 11, 2003)
1.4 million pensioners will receive a new pension credit created by the UK Work and Pension Secretary. The pension credit combines a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) and an additional payment rewarding pensioners for their savings. However, not all eligible households have claimed the pension credit, forcing the government to make sure the most vulnerable pensioners are not left out.

Rover faces pension fund talks (November 11, 2003)
Union leaders will meet with Birmingham-based car group MG Rover after it announced the creation of a £12.9 million trust for senior executives’ post-retirement benefits. Workers’ representatives are concerned about the size of the fund in light of the £95 million loss recently revealed in the 2002 accounts.

Unions urge World Bank: Stop pushing private pensions! (November 10, 2003)
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) sharply criticizes the World Bank’s active promotion of private pension plans at the expense of traditional pay-as-you-go systems throughout the world. The Bank supports privatization, claiming that private funds will inject workers’ savings into national economies and strengthen them. At times the Bank has bludgeoned countries to adopt privatization if they want Bank or other credit to build infrastructure. The ICFTU points out that privatization is costly, has high administrative costs and does not work. Private pensions are low, especially for women, and many have no pensions. Instead of pushing privatization, the authors say the Bank should use its expertise and financial resources to help countries to improve existing public programs. 

The International Confederation of Free Trade Union released a 60-page report on the World Bank Involvement in the Privatization of public pension systems in Developing and Transition Countries in May 2003. 

Irish Workers Are Slow To Embrace Pension Plan (November 10, 2003) 
With an average age of 35, Ireland has the youngest population in the European Union, and those born during its 1970s baby boom will come of pensionable age in 2035. While France and Germany struggle over changes, Ireland's government has taken action. But its latest big idea -- Personal Retirement Savings Accounts, which aim to boost private pension coverage to 70% from 50% -- isn't proving to be the savings bonanza the government had hoped.

The challenges older persons face in Azerbaijan (November 10, 2003)
Gunel Sultanova of Global Action on Aging addresses the plight of elderly refugees and internally displaced people in Azerbaijan in a GAA seminar presentation. As Azerbaijan struggles with economic and political turmoil left from the collapse of the former-Soviet Union, refugee and displaced seniors are particularly vulnerable, with little or no state pension support. 

United Kingdom: Bail-out for workers' pensions (November 10, 2003)
The shipping firm Maersk voluntarily decided to ensure that all members of the Sea-Land Services pension plan, which they inherited as part of a takeover in December, 1999, will receive their full pension. United Kingdom law does not guarantee a minimum pension for workers of a firm that goes out of business, except for already-retired workers. The Department for Work and Pensions won’t change the law to protect pensioners until 2005. 

Europeans Face a Bleaker Old Age (November 7, 2003)
The “demographic time bomb” presents a troublesome challenge for European governments: the number of pensioners is increasing while the workforce contracts. Europe may be forced to reform or privatize its generous public pension system, leaving today’s young workers with far fewer retirement resources. As a result, the younger generation may have to work longer and save money to retire as comfortably as the previous generation. Perhaps people will want to work longer if jobs become more interesting, less onerous and taxing on health. 

United Kingdom: 'No blank cheque' for pension victims (November 4, 2003)
Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) union workers lost 80 percent of their pensions when their company collapsed. Now, ASW is taking the British government to the European Court of Justice on charges that it did not protect pensioners as required by law. Pensions minister Malcolm Wicks has proposed a US-style insurance plan that would prevent future problems, but the plan would not compensate workers who have already lost out. 

United Kingdom: Baby boom pensions rethink urged (November 4, 2003)
Amid calls for a pension system revamp, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy wants to set up a working group to look at how people can continue to live a “full and productive life” well into their older years.  Kennedy argues older people should continue to have access to higher education to improve their skills, and advocates for gradual retirement over a certain period of time, allowing older people to continue contributing to society. 

Turkey launches private pension system (November 3, 2003)  
Until recently, pension options for Turks were limited to the low paying state social security scheme, life insurance policies, property and the volatile Turkish equity market. Now, five years of negotiations between private insurance companies and the Turkish treasury has resulted in a new private pensions industry. The pensions industry is already lobbying for broader tax incentives, even though the Turkish treasury relies heavily on income tax from legal workers. 

Thailand: Taking some risk out of work (November 3, 2003)
The Labour Ministry has said all workers, self-employed and company employees, will be covered by the Social Security Fund by Jan 1, 2005. Not everyone is convinced. Workers without any form of insurance have been calling for social security coverage since 1998. Around 35.19 million people make up Thailand's workforce, but only 7.45 million, or 21.17%, receive social security cover, according to the Labour Ministry. The other 23 million include taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, fishermen, farmers, contract workers, people who work from home, housekeepers and self-employed doctors and dentists.

United Kingdom: Unions set to sue government (November 3, 2003)  
Hundreds of steel workers in Wales lost thousands of pounds in pension benefits because the British government failed to properly execute a European Union directive protecting workers in firms that go into receivership. Unions expect their case against the government to be heard in the High Court early next year before being transferred to the European Court of Justice.

Israel Braces for Strike Over Changes in Pensions (November 3, 2003)
Israel is preparing for a nationwide strike to protest the government’s planned pension changes. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wishes to increase the retirement age to 67 years old for all workers, instead of 65 for men and 60 for women. The leader of Israel’s largest labor federation, Amir Peretz, accuses the government of imposing even greater burdens on the poor and working classes.

United Kingdom: Pension talks at Rolls Royce (October 30, 2003)  
Rolls Royce says it will cope with its large pension fund deficit by reducing the value of employees’ pensions by 20%. Heavy stock market losses in the last three years, and fewer employees, led to the £1 billion deficit. Union leaders say all levels of workers are ready for strike action if negotiations between union leaders and managers are not successful.

Under-35s face pension misery (October 27, 2003)
A survey by the UK National Consumer Council finds that young people under 35 have particular difficultly saving for retirement because of high costs, lack of confidence in pension providers and insufficient financial information.  Analysts worry that young people will be unprepared for retirement, and recommend simple and clear financial advice to guide them.

Canada: Pension reforms welcome (October 27, 2003)

The Régie des rentes du Québec proposes reforms in the Quebec Pension Plan that would encourage older workers to delay taking their pension benefits at the age of 65 and keep experienced workers in the Canadian workforce. The Régie would increase pension benefits by 0.7% for every month of work after the age of 65.

Zimbabwe: Inflation Wipes Out Pensioners Income (October 25, 2003)
As the nation tries to come to grips with economic hardships, many pensioners are destitute. Inflation has eroded the value of their pensions so much that most now rely on handouts. Some pensioners have even stopped collecting their payouts. The bus fare to collect the money is more than what is paid. Most of those in destitution have pensions ranging from ZWD $900 (1000 Zimbabwe Dollars = $1.25 USD, GAA) to a maximum ZWD $90 000 a month. These pensions cannot match escalating prices, being pushed by inflation, which has reached a staggering 455 percent.

Don't rush pensions reform, social partners plead (October 24, 2003)
Malta’s Finance Minister, John Dalli, is preparing for Malta’s inevitable pension reform.. However, “social partners” in Malta, including trade unions and employers, urge the government to proceed cautiously with pension reform. Mr. Dalli proposes making a higher retirement age for workers an “option” depending on their working capacity, but social partners remain critical of this measure. 

Italy hit by Pensions Strike as Germany Debates Reforms (October 24, 2003)
European countries face a growing crisis in their pension systems: the number of tax-paying workers is insufficient to pay for retirees’ pension benefits. Governments are starting to propose reforms, but they face intense opposition. Italy has already been crippled by strikes, and Germany is still waiting for public reaction to ongoing political debates.   

Russia: Every Fifth Russian Works for Free (October 24, 2003)
Last week, the RF Pension Fund finished printing of 42 million notifications to the citizens of Russia to inform them of the pension accounts status. Eight million of the notifications stated the pension account status was zero. Thus, the official statistics says that every fifth Russian is working for free. At that, the reported information is not final at all. Yesterday, RF Labor and Social Development Minister Alexander Pochinok said that as soon as the information on the status of pension accounts provided by the Pension Fund is analyzed, the number of people having actual "zero" pension accounts may even increase. The minister says these are going to be "huge figures". What is more, the RF Pension Fund does not have complete information because "many employers do not register their employees as workers."
(This article is also available in Russian in our Russian section)

Pension plans prompt Italians to strike (October 24, 2003)
A strike over Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s pension reform proposals left the country paralyzed, as unions called on workers to take the streets. Berlusconi proposes to increase the number of required contribution years to 40 years and raise the retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women. Unions argue that government hype about pension reform is simply masking Berlusconi’s other “misguided” policies.  

United Kingdom : Today's pension…tomorrow's burden ( October 22, 2003 )
All over Great Britain, people are finding their employer-paid or private pension plans savagely cut or completely lost. The state, argues this journalist, is the only pension provider that can guarantee a minimum income in old age. However, the state pension system must represent a social contract, affordable today and also for future generations, not a burden.

United Kingdom: Britons 'still not saving enough' for retirement (October 21, 2003)
More than a third of the British working population does not save enough for retirement, even though few believe that the pension system alone is likely to provide them with a decent standard of living, says a recent survey by the insurance industry’s trade body. Industry experts say the British government has to create a reassuring framework informing people on how to save enough to guarantee a good standard of living in retirement.

German Pension System Plan Increases Burden on Retirees ( October 20, 2003 )
A German government proposal to prop up its flagging pension system will put a greater burden on retirees by keeping employee contributions level. This proposal reduces the German pension reserve fund and requires elders to pay the full cost of nursing-care insurance. Lower-income elderly people will be hit especially hard by this step back in the German welfare system.

Germany proposes pensions freeze (October 20, 2003)
The governing coalition in Germany has proposed freezing the level of retirement pensions in 2004 as a part of its economic reform package. The decision - described by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as one of the most difficult his government has had to take - was announced after a meeting between coalition partners, the Social Democrats and the Greens. Mr Schroeder admitted that the freeze effectively amounted to a cut in real benefits received by pensioners. The freeze is designed to help the government deal with a substantial shortfall of $12m (10.3m euros) in state pension funds.    

United Kingdom: Pension plans on life-support (October 20, 2003)
A flood of articles in the European media recently has warned about the growing problem of paying pensions as the populations of European countries age and birthrates decline. For
Japan , this problem looks especially acute. The British claim that they are in a better position than continental European countries since many of their pensions are funded through company and private schemes involving money invested in bonds and equities. Old-age pensions operated by the state on a "pay as you go" basis (deductions from the earnings of those working pay for the pensions of the aged) are hardly adequate for survival. The author examines the issue of pensions in Great Britain and the problems its aged population faces there.  

Russia: Whom Can You Trust With Your Pension? (October 20, 2003)
A Russian journalist illuminates crucial problems with the Russian pension system through the struggles of his son and daughter-in-law. He touches upon issues that older people worldwide face when trying to claim the pensions they deserve: women penalized for taking time off for childcare, an abundance of information but a lack of explanation, and government pressure to privatize.  

Europe struggles with pension ( October 19, 2003 )
European governments are having trouble paying the pension bill, as millions of baby boomers head into retirement. Without pension system reform, costs will get even higher while pension benefits decrease even further. The first victims of Europe ’s pension crisis will be the poor elderly who may not be able to pay for their basic needs. 

Japan : Making pensions work ( October 18, 2003 )
The pension debate is back in Japan , as campaigns for Japan ’s Lower House elections get under way. Both young and old people worry about the pension system: the former think they won’t get back what they put in, and the latter worry their benefits will decrease. Japanese political candidates are all pitching their platforms on how to pay for pensions, but voters want them to forget the sweet talk and make credible proposals in the next few days.  

Namibia: MPs Trade Barbs Over Pension Hikes (October 17, 2003)
SWAPO (South-West Africa People's Organization) levelled a host of accusations against the opposition as ruling party lawmakers maintained their hardline stance against proposals to increase old age pensions on Wednesday, October 15. The debate on an opposition motion calling for pensions to be upped to N$550 a month resumed with no signs compromise from either side of the House. The current pension is N$250 a month ($34 – GAA).  

United Kingdom : Treasury targets high earners' pensions (October 17, 2003)
Wealthy British business leaders are uniting to fight a Treasury reform proposal that would limit the amount of money they can have in their pensions by the time they retire. The government wants to impose a £1.4m “lifetime limit” on pensions, and funds in excess of that limit would be heavily taxed. While the Treasury notes that only about 5,000 people would be affected by the reform, a powerful lobby of high-income earners says the limit would discourage pension savings, and encourage businesses to shift remuneration from pensions to salaries and benefits.  

Nigeria: Many Teachers Died Without Their Pension (October 16, 2003)
In the swirling economic currents of rising cost of living, fuel price hike, low wages, high rents, widespread poverty, low purchasing power, and prevalent recession, unpaid pensions of retired teachers is sending many of them to the great beyond. National President of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mallam Abdulwaheed Ibrahim Omar has disclosed that many retired teachers have died across the country without being paid their pensions. He stated: "It is the age-long problem of unpaid pension rights to teachers who retired from our school system, particularly primary schools, since 1994. These teachers have remained since retirement in many states, without their gratuities and without pension. Many have died. Many more are sick and cannot afford the high cost of medication. Not a few have been thrown into destitution, undue dependence and state of extreme hunger, disease and untold suffering".

Malta: Dalli proposes mix of private, state pensions (October 15, 2003)
The Finance minister of Malta, John Dalli, proposes a new pension system that would combine the pay-as-you-go system, ensuring a minimum income for all elderly people, with a funded scheme of private pensions. Dalli maintains that Malta needs to prepare for the challenges of an aging population by guaranteeing a strong and viable pension system, but insists Malta ’s social safety net should remain intact. 

Minister acts on pensions, Kelly demands radical change in City investment management (October 15, 2003)
Ruth Kelly, the British financial secretary to the Treasury, called a meeting with leading figures in the pension industry to demand radical changes in the management of retirement funds by City firms. The reform needs to tackle the traditional approach of the pension fund industry, which fosters a short-term approach instead of long-term investments. Furthermore, consultants and trustees have to work together to make the best investment choice for all the members of a pension fund.

Russia : Pension Reform Follows Corporate Example ( October 14, 2003)
Pension reform is a hot topic as the government wrangles with a new system to improve retirement prospects for the nation's millions of workers. The failings of the old state system created during Soviet times are obvious: people toiled away the best years of their lives only to be left with subsistence-level pensions in their golden years. The question today is how will working people cope with the new options for investing their hard-earned capital? Will the corporate pensions’ example help them?  

Europe: Pension crisis straps Europe (October 15, 2003)
Aging is a planetwide phenomenon. The number of people aged 60 and over -- 606 million in 2000 -- will hit 1.9 billion by 2050, outnumbering children for the first time in history, the United Nations estimates. It's a problem familiar throughout the industrialized democracies, from
Japan to the United States. Europe, however, is particularly challenged because it is among regions aging first, its pension benefits are sometimes exceptionally generous, and they are often financed by the current generation of workers.
Such schemes were fine when workers greatly outnumbered retirees. But that's no longer the case. After the postwar boom, birth rates plummeted. The result is that by 2040, across the 15-nation European Union, there will be just two working-age people per retiree, the World Bank estimates. That's half the current ratio of 4-to-1.

Barbados: Pension plan ease (October 15, 2003)
In a move to widen the net of Barbadians covered by pension plans, Government yesterday introduced sweeping new legislation to govern the administration of private pension plans while making them more accessible. The new measures will shorten the time employees must wait before becoming eligible to join pension plans; give members in such plans vested rights to their employers’ contributions after only three years and make provisions for employees to take their accrued pension rights from employer to employer.

Fresh attack on Britain over expatriate pensions (October 13, 2003)
The new Australian minister for family and community affairs blasted the British government for its discriminatory and unfair system regarding British pensioners in Australia and 47 other countries. The British government does not allow expatriate pensions to rise with inflation, a problem exacerbated by the increasing value of the Australian dollar against the Sterling , leaving the Australian government to support British retirees in need of financial help.

Australia: Medicare 'an article of faith' (October 12, 2003)
Despite current problems, Australia has a good health system compared to other countries. Unlike Britain, we have a vigorous private sector which takes the pressure off public hospitals. Unlike America, access to top-quality health care does not depend upon private health insurance. After the Japanese and Swiss, Australians have the highest life expectancy in the OECD. After the Japanese, Swiss and Swedish, Australians have the longest healthy lives in the OECD. Even so, governments can never be complacent about the state of our health system because health is important to everyone.

Namibia: Passions High Over Pensions (October 10, 2003)
The government has again ruled out adjusting pensions for Namibia 's elderly, at least for now. Breaking her silence on the issue during debate in the National Assembly, Health and Social Services Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila said on Wednesday that the current N$250 paid to the elderly was all Government could afford "I wish the Swapo Government owned a gold mine, certainly the senior citizens would be getting sufficient allowance [then] ... as for now, what the Ministry is giving is what Government can afford," she said. The motion, moved by DTA President Katuutire Kaura two weeks ago, calls on Government to increase pensions to N$550.

United Kingdom: Compulsion moves up the pensions agenda (October 8, 2003)
The United Kingdom
is embroiled in a debate about whether the government should impose compulsory pension contributions, forcing people to save for retirement. Charities for the elderly, the Consumers' Association and many of the big trade unions support compulsion, but some people remain skeptical that it might not actually increase savings. Furthermore, compulsion would affect mostly the middle class, who might not always be able to afford saving for retirement, which could imply great political risk for the government.

Germany: German pensions 'face a shortfall of €9bn' (October 8, 2003)
Pension funds in Germany are facing a financial deficit, while high unemployment and falling net salaries have resulted in decreased pension contributions. To avoid making the workforce pay more in pension contributions, the German government may instead postpone the next scheduled rise in payments to pensioners, adding to the distress of elderly people with low pensions. 

Taiwan: Portable pension system in the works (October 10, 2003)
A new law in the works promises to substantially improve old-age security for the great majority of Taiwanese. Staff Writer Francis Li examines the provisions of the Labor Pension Statue draft bill recently submitted to the Legislature, based in part on an interview with Lee Lai-hsi, director of the CLA Department of Labor Standards. Taiwan is a step closer to guaranteeing retirement pensions for all of its workers now that a Labor Pension Statute draft bill has been drawn up by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) and sent to the Legislature for review. Under the existing Labor Standards Law, more than 75 percent of workers in Taiwan are not able to receive pensions upon retirement. To be eligible for a pension under current rules, employees must have been employed at the same company or organization for at least 25 years if retiring before age 55, or for at least 15 years if retiring thereafter.

Tanzania: Retirement age to remain 60 (October 10, 2003)
The Prime Minister, Frederick Sumaye, has said the government does not have plans to reduce the retirement age for civil servants, even if the life expectancy continues to decline in the wake of increasing HIV/AIDS deaths. Sumaye said this when responding to questions from journalists during a question and answer session, which was recorded by Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam (RTD) yesterday. “We will not reduce the current retirement age on grounds of increasing HIV/AIDS deaths. Despite the decline in life expectancy, the government will continue to uphold the current legal retirement age for civil servants,” Sumaye said.

China: Women question early retirement (October 9, 2003)
When the pioneers of New China formulated rules al-lowing women to retire five years ahead of their male colleagues out of concern for their health, they did not foresee that their goodwill would be resented by many women decades later. The policy has been challenged by women, particularly white-collar professionals and civil servants, who are increasingly sceptical about the fairness of the rules of yesteryear. Times have changed, they argue, and technology and efficiency have relieved more and more people from hard physical labour. So the different retirement ages for men and women appear to discriminate against women.

United Kingdom: Stakeholder pensions 'missing target' (October 7, 2003 )
The government's low-cost stakeholder pension schemes are failing to reach their target audience, according to a study. The pension schemes were launched in April 2001 to help people on low incomes save for their retirement. According to research firm Datamonitor, the schemes are being used mostly by existing pension holders and wealthy customers. These people are attracted by their cheap charges and tax advantages.  

United Kingdom: Pension protesters call for end to means testing (October 7, 2003)
Pensioners took to the streets in protest when the Government's controversial Pensions Credit scheme was introduced yesterday, claiming it should be replaced by an increase in the basic pension. Ministers say half of Britain 's eight million pensioner households will be £400 a year better off with the new credit. But pressure groups say the means-tested scheme is too complex and expensive to run. Accompanied by a piper, the 100-strong crowd marched from Smith Square to Portcullis House, central London, stopping on the way to drop off letters at the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative Party headquarters.

Kenya: Treasury acts tough on pensions (October 7, 2003 )
The government has appointed a task force to clear the backlog at the Pensions Department in readiness for the coming into effect of a new pensions law at the beginning of next year. And in a move aimed sparing the government the heavy penalties stipulated in the new law, the Treasury has given the Pensions Department a three-months ultimatum to clear all retirement cases pending before it.

A point of View: A Graying Europe Wonders How to Pay Its Pensioners (October 4, 2003 )
For decades the Catholic Church's pleas asking governments to reject family planning have often fallen on deaf ears. Now, in the midst of a birth dearth and a graying population, European governments are finally wakening up to the looming crisis in their pension plans. Demographers gathered at a recent meeting of the International Statistical Institute in Berlin warned of problems due to population aging, Reuters reported Aug. 15. "While the 20th century was the century of population growth, we can already say from a demographic perspective that the 21st century will go into the history books as the century of aging," said Wolfgang Lutz of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria .

Nigeria: New Pension Scheme, Recipe for Anarchy – OPS ( October 2, 2003 )
The Federal Government's proposed new national pension scheme suffered another major setback as Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and Nigerian Association of Cha-mbers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) dismissed it as a recipe for anarchy.

Trinidad and Tobago: New NIS pension from today ( October 1, 2003 )
The National Insurance Board has adjusted the monthly pension payment for 47,551
NIS pensioners. The adjustment which takes effect today — October 1 — ensures a minimum NIS pension of $1,000 for each NIS pensioner.

Japan: Sakaguchi focusing on pension reform ( September 30, 2003 )
In the fourth of a series of interviews with senior Cabinet ministers with important and difficult responsibilities--such as curbing deflation, tackling pension reform and dealing with North Korea--Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi says an important task facing his ministry is to determine the steps to be taken in raising funds and implementing other measures needed to carry out a government plan to increase the ratio of government contributions to the state-run basic pension plan from one-third to half.

South Korea: Pension plan would keep funds intact if firms fail ( September 30, 2003 )
The Labor Ministry yesterday unveiled a new pension system that, if the National Assembly approves it, would guarantee wage-earners’ pensions even if their company goes bankrupt. The plan in essence would force companies to fund their pension plans fully; the funds would be managed by an outside firm. The ministry said it wanted the new pension scheme to be in effect next July. At present, Korean firms with pension plans manage the pension contributions themselves; there are no provisions for recovering money in pension accounts if a firm goes bankrupt. Under the ministry’s proposal, pension funds would be managed and eventually paid out by financial firms contracted to manage the investment of those funds.

Namibia: Pension Hike Ruled Out ( September 30, 2003 )
Namibian Government has ruled out increasing pensions for the elderly soon. At the first ever national consultative conference for the elderly, Health and Social Services Minister Dr Libertina Amathila said that while it was Government's intention to continue increasing grants for pensioners this could only be considered when the country was financially better off. The current pension is only N$250 per month. "Our Government cares,
Namibia cares for older people, but we only have one cake and there is a lot to share. Once resources have improved, we will add a little onto old age pensions," Amathila told about 100 pensioners from all the country's regions gathered in Windhoek to discuss issues facing them.

United Kingdom: There is no substitute for the state pension (September 29, 2003)
Very few governments, regardless of their persuasion, have the necessary political foresight to make decisions that take into account the needs of both today's and tomorrow's population. It is widely accepted in
Europe and elsewhere that we have an ageing population. This is something to be celebrated rather than condemned as some would have us do; for, despite the ratio of working people to retired falling over the next 30 years, the nation's wealth, through increased productivity and growth, will continue to exceed what is needed in order to provide financial security in our retirement. The response to such developments - such as the proposals to raise the age at which people can draw their state or company pensions, hidden behind the call for equal opportunities - are evidence of the short-termist, knee-jerk approach that suffocates the development of a coherent pensions policy.

India: State panel moots six pension plan options ( September 29, 2003 )
A high-powered committee of state secretaries, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has suggested six alternatives to replace the existing pension schemes of the Central and state governments. The proposal seeks to reduce the financial load on the Union and state governments in the face of pension-related expenditure mounting to as much as 20 per cent of some state Budgets.

Italy 'must face pension reform' ( September 29, 2003 )
Speaking on national television, Mr.Berlusconi appealed to the electorate to back his government's plans to reform
Italy 's expensive welfare system. Mr. Berlusconi said his government was determined to make changes that would provide Italians with greater "security and well-being", and said opponents of change were deceiving the public. But union leaders dismissed Mr. Berlusconi's appeal, and said the issue had been blown out of proportion. 

Malta : Plans to raise retirement age to 65 ( September 26, 2003 )
The government is to propose raising the retirement age to 65 in its pension reforms, according to government sources. The proposals are expected to be presented to the Welfare Reform Commission for consultations. Social Policy Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Finance Minister John Dalli have been working hand in hand on the proposals on the basis of a number of studies on the welfare gap problem and, particularly, the sustainability of pensions as the number of pensioners rises in relation to the number of workers making national insurance contributions.

Pensions: Chile's other revolution ( September 25, 2003 )
Shortly after General Augusto Pinochet toppled
Chile 's socialist president from power, another, altogether more peaceful revolution was set in train - pension reform. The country went through “capitalization” phase that forced the state and social services to distance themselves from fixed pension provision. Instead, the retirements become the sole responsibility of those who retire. The most important aspect of Chile 's pension reform was that it switched from a defined-benefit scheme (where pensioners receive a fixed amount, irrespective of their contributions) to a defined contribution scheme (where pensioners' income is based on the money saved during the person's working life).  

United Kingdom: Legal fight for gay pensions (September 24, 2003 )
The government is facing a union-backed legal challenge over the pension rights of gay workers. The unions say new equality laws banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, due in December, are not being implemented correctly. They say a loophole will allow pension schemes to continue offering benefits to married couples only. Religious organisations will also continue to be able to bar gay, lesbian or bisexual people from working for them, unions say.  

Ireland: 250,000 workers face pensions time bomb (September 24, 2003)
Almost a quarter of a million Irish workers with defined contribution pension schemes are sitting on a potential pensions time bomb and largely unaware of it, according to the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF). Raymond McKenna of KPMG and the IAPF told a conference today that the average defined contribution pensions member needs to "significantly" increase contributions if they are to secure an adequate income in retirement.

United Kingdom: A nation fooling itself (September 24, 2003)
More than half Britain’s workers will be forced to rely on state hand-outs in retirement, although most have fooled themselves into expecting a comfortable old age, a new pensions study shows. The Pension Map of Britain 2003, a study by JPMorgan Fleming, the investment bank, paints a grim picture of a nation of workers that is failing to save for retirement but clinging to the belief that they will have a retirement income of almost £19,000 a year. Instead, the bank warns them that three in four working adults will have to survive on an income of less than half their final salary. The average British salary is now £24,603. To achieve a retirement income of £19,000, workers would have to retire on 77 per cent of the average salary. 

China: DOH starts free flu vaccination for elderly (September 23, 2003)
A nationwide free vaccination campaign against influenza for the aged, sponsored by the Department of Health (DOH), kicked off yesterday with hundreds of elderly citizens queuing up for their turns to get a shot at every public hospital. The campaign lasts until November 15. Only people 65 years old or older are beneficiaries, but anti-flu shots are not exactly free. The DOH provides vaccines free. "We have 1.64 million vaccine shots distributed across the nation," a spokesman said. Any old man or woman who receives a vaccination has to pay a registration fee as well as that for injection. The fees vary from hospital to hospital.

Nigeria sounds alarm over pensions (September 22, 2003)
Nigerian authorities have uncovered a huge deficit in the state pension fund, confirming what many unpaid former state workers have feared for years. Retired civil servants have long complained of non-payment of their pensions, with many forced to queue for days to claim what they are owed. According to Nigerian government calculations, the shortfall in the state pension fund amounts to at least 2 trillion naira (£9.3bn; $14.8bn). The revelation is likely to stir suspicions that some of the money may have been misappropriated. Corruption was a major issue in Nigeria's recent election, which saw won by President Olusegun Obasanjo and his People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Only 15 years of surplus will save Euro pensions (September 21, 2003)
European governments need to maintain a budget surplus for more than 15 years to fund state pensions for today's middle-aged, the International Monetary Fund has warned. Europe's ageing populations will need public spending of around 17 per cent of GDP by 2050 to fund their pensions. Governments must run surpluses of about 2 per cent of GDP for the next 15-20 years to meet the requirements, the IMF said last week. 

Switzerland: Protesters tell Bern to leave pensions alone (September 20, 2003)
More than 25,000 people have protested in the Swiss capital, Bern, against government proposals to cut retirement benefits.Under the proposals put forward this spring, Couchepin suggested that in order to “save” the state pension scheme, the retirement age should be raised from the current 65, to 67. The rise would take place in two stages – from 2015, it would increase to 66 and from 2025 to 67. Moreover, the interior minister wants pension payouts to be linked to inflation rather than based on final salaries as at present. His proposals would bring costs down, but even with them the state would need more money to keep funding its pension commitments. Demonstrators marched through the city centre on Saturday waving banners which read “Hands off our pensions!”, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Angola: Vice-Minister Remarks On Additional Pension (September 19, 2003)
The Deputy Minister of Public Administration, Employment and Social Security (MAPESS), Sebastião Lukinda, Thursday, September 11 in Luanda exhorted employers to establish complentary pension systems that give workers better living standars after retirement. Mr Lukinda, who was speaking in the 2nd Colloquy on Complementary Social Protection, said these rules will improve the conditions of the workers, who mostly get low pensions, and will also stimulate them to work more.

Russia: The Pension Test (September 19, 2003)

Forty million Russian citizens now have the right to choose who will manage their pension savings: the state Vneshekonombank (VEB) or one of over fifty private companies. The VEB promises complete reliability but at yields lower than inflation, while private companies offer actual yield of 3-4% but with unknown risks.

Mozambique: Delay in Pensions Prejudices Miners (September 19, 2003)
The Mozambican National Social Security Institute (INSS) has denounced delays in the forwarding of pensions by the South African Rand Mutual insurance company, to Mozambicans who once worked on the South African gold mines, reports Thursday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". The delays are damaging the interests of the former miners and their families. Meanwhile, the delegate of the Mozambican Labour ministry in South Africa, Pedro Taimo, said that more than 1,000 cases are pending the location of their beneficiaries in Mozambique.

Malaysia: Pension scheme for private sector (September 16, 2003)
An alternative voluntary pension scheme has been suggested in place of the discontinued Employees Provident Fund (EPF) annuity scheme. MCIS Zurich chief executive officer L. Meyyappan said unlike government servants who were well protected with pensions equivalent to half of their last drawn monthly salary for the rest of their lives, the same cannot be promised for private sector employees. “The lump sum payment from EPF upon reaching retirement age of 55 is definitely not adequate, and that fact has not been disputed. “This issue, if not properly addressed, will result in various social problems for the older generation,” said the former Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (Liam) chairman in an interview. 

Nigeria: Epidemic Threatens Pension Exercise As Kalu Calls for Restructuring of Scheme (September 15, 2003)
An outbreak of epidemic is imminent in Asaba, capital of Delta State as hundreds of military pensioners who had reported at Oshimili South Local Government arcade, venue of screening and payment of their pension, have turned the centre into a faeces dump. But the Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has called for total restructuring of the country's pension system in order to overcome the problem being experienced by retired civil and public servants. Speaking during a breakfast meeting with media practitioners in Abia State, weekend, Kalu recalled how he offered a panacea on how to overcome the problem of payment of pension, regretting that labour leaders misunderstood his intention and called him names.

United Kingdom: Elderly mental health 'timebomb' (September 15, 2003)
The number of elderly people with dementia is set to soar - but social services will be unable to cope, a charity has warned. Friends of the Elderly looked at existing provision in South East England - which has a particularly high concentration of people aged over 65. The charity found many authorities do not have the necessary information about future need in their areas. It says action is needed to avoid a "catastrophe in care provision". 

Nigeria: Kwankwaso Attempts to Eliminate Fake Names From Military Pensions (September 12, 2003)
Defence Minister, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has said the Federal Government will only inject more fund for the payment of the arreas of pension and gratuity of military retirees if fake pensioners are flushed out of the administration of military pensions board. Engineer Kwankwaso disclosed this when he visited the Mogadishu Barracks during the general conduct of the pay parade and verification exercise of some retired military pensioners, which commenced nation-wide recently.

United Kingdom: Pension 'let down' for elderly in homes (September 11, 2003)

Under the new Pension Credit, to be introduced on 6 October, pensioners with modest savings will be rewarded for their thrift - and receive a Savings "credit" from the government. Pensioners can get up to £14.79 a week for a single person and £19.20 for a couple under this savings element from the Department for Work and Pensions. But according to the Department of Health, an estimated 80,000 pensioners who are eligible for the savings credit and who live in a care homes will have to pay part of the credit back.

Lagos State Plans to Undertake Census of Pensioners (September 9, 2003)
The Lagos State government has set up a committee charged with the responsibility of verifying the claims and payment of pensioners salaries for the next three months. The public relations officer, Lagos state civil service pension office, ministry of economic planning and budget, Mr. Jide Lawal announced the new initiative in a statement issued yesterday.

Study warns on Japan's pension deficit (September 9, 2003)
Japanese companies face unfunded liabilities in their employee pension funds that are far larger than those at US corporations, where pension deficits have led to worries about the financial health of large companies. According to a report to be released today by Greenwich Associates, a US consultancy, assets at employee pension funds in Japan cover on average only 62 per cent of the payments they will need to make to retirees in future. The assets of US funds cover 103 per cent of their payment obligations.

Nigeria: FG proposes Contributory Pension Scheme to replace NSITF (September 9, 2003)
The Federal Government has sent a bill to the National Assembly repealing all existing pension schemes including the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). The bill pegs the asset base and minimum capital of fund custodians at N250 billion and N2 billion respectively thus excluding many players from pensions management. For the Federal Government employees, they are to contribute a minimum seven and half percent of their total monthly emoluments for their pensions while the government is to pay a minimum of twelve and half percent. For those in the military, it is a minimum of 15 percent by the employer while a minimum of five percent is to be contributed by the employee. In all other cases, seven percent applies for the employee, or as agreed by both parties.

The role of old age pensions in reducing poverty (September 4, 2003)
Non-contributory pensions can help to reduce and prevent poverty among older people and their households in developing countries, according to evidence from a new research study, which compares and examines the impact of non-contributory pension programmes in Brazil and South Africa. The joint project was undertaken by researchers in the UK universities of Manchester and East Anglia, universities in Brazil and South Africa, and HelpAge International.

Australia shakes up pensions savings rules (September 9, 2003)
Australia is to reduce its much-criticised superannuation surcharge on high-income earners. Also, in an attempt to encourage pension saving among poorer Australians, the government will match contributions for low earners. The Investment and Financial Services Association, an industry body, hailed the moves - first mooted during the 2001 election campaign but held up by political disagreement - as "the most significant breakthrough in superannuation tax in 15 years". Helen Coonan, assistant treasurer, said that as a result of a compromise deal reached at the weekend with the Democrats, the 15 per cent surcharge on pension payments for those earning over A$90,500 (US$58,820) would fall from 15 to 12.5 per cent over three years.

India: Government bullish on pension sector growth (September 9, 2003)
The pension sector is expected to become the largest financial sector in India in the next five years and there will be a separate law for the sector, a top finance ministry official said on Tuesday. "Over the next 3-5 years, the pension sector will be the largest sector in the country," U K Sinha, joint secretary (capital markets and pension), said at a seminar organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.

Russia: 55 Earn Right to Handle Pension Funds (September 08, 2003)
The Finance Ministry announced Friday a list of 55 private companies with the right to manage billions of dollars in pensions savings, amid criticism that such a profusion will confuse people and leave control of the funds in the government's hands. As of next month, some 40 million pensioners-to-be must either select one of the 55 private companies or have the investment portion of their money managed by state-owned Vneshekonombank, or VEB, by default.

Italy: National Alliance, no steps taken, Tremonti data insufficient
(September 8, 2003)
No step ahead were taken in the Villa Spada summit on pensions and the budget. The severe judgement arrived from National Alliance (AN), according to whom "the elements supplied by the Minister of Economy are not yet sufficient to delineate the entire picture of the situation, both on resources to be found, and also on possible uses of resources to relaunch development and guarantee social cohesion," said the Minister of Agriculture, Gianni Alemanno, and the Vice Minister of Economy, Mario Baldassarri.

United Kingdom: Pensions set to rise (September 8, 2003)
The Social Security Authority (SSA) is asking politicians to agree to a 7.4% rise on a top rate of £121 a week. Married pensioner couples would see an increase of £9.50 a week to £200. This is the second year in which the authority has recommended putting nearly all the increase on the single pension rate. The move is designed to make the single pension a higher proportion of the married couples' rate. 

Fears over Russian pension fund reform (September 07, 2003)
From next year, Russian citizens will be able to opt for a private manager to run their pension account instead of the state. But the decision involves a significant drop in requirements for fund managers to be able to compete for $3bn (€2.7bn) of state pensions and threatens to undermine confidence in pension reform. Elizabeth Hebert, head of Pallada Investment Management, warned: "The government was obligated by law to establish higher fiduciary standards and they have failed to do so. Some of the companies which they are recommending to the Russian population have no public track record at all. This discredits the pension reform in the eyes of the population."

Britons 'to work longer' (September 3, 2003)
The research, compiled by the Future Foundation on behalf of Saga, concluded that by 2020 nearly two million people will be working past the age of 65. Reduced pensions, better life expectancy and skill shortages will lead to employers throughout the UK relying on older workers, it said. More women are likely to be working as the state retirement age for women will have increased to 65, in line with their male colleagues. By 2020 workforce participation rates are actually expected to be higher for women than for men. 

United Kingdom: Baby boom backlash warning (September 3, 2003)

An independent think tank is warning politicians they could face a backlash from the post-war baby boom generation if they do not deal with their demands as they approach retirement. The generation that protested against the Vietnam War will not keep quiet as it prepares to get its bus pass, Demos are warning. One issue likely to generate protest is that of pensions, with the report saying no government should expect the pensions crisis to be solved by encouraging people to continue working into later life.

United Kingdom: Tea and social security (September 3, 2003)

Work and Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith was competing for attention with "Turkey and Tinsel" breaks to Eastbourne at £169 a throw on the Age Concern stand, as he met pensioners at Westminster's Churchill Hall. Over a slice of cake and a cuppa, he set out to sell the government's new mega benefit - the £2.5bn Pension Credit.

United Kingdom: Pensioners' lost millions (September 3, 2003) 

Pensioners are missing out on millions of pounds worth of state help. Sally West, Age Concern's policy expert, offers some help to those who want to get their hands on the cash.

 Australia: Population ageing faster than thought (September 3, 2003)

Australia in 2051 is likely to have a million more people than previously thought - but most of the extras will be people over 65 years old, the Bureau of Statistics has projected. In a dramatic revision of the nation's official population projections, the bureau's central projection estimates that by 2051, there will be more than five times as many Australians aged 85 and over than there are now. From 290,000 now, the number of those over 85 will inflate to almost 1.6 million, assuming the inexorable growth in human longevity rolls on.

Bangladesh: Tension runs high over rumour of forced retirement (September 3, 2003) 

Bangladesh tension runs high in the civil administration over speculations that officials of a particular batch, who were already discriminated against in promotion and superseded by their juniors, would be given forced retirement. The situation worsened as four joint secretaries and one deputy secretary were forced into retirement on Sunday.

Canada: Canadians worried about retirement (September 2, 2003)

Lack of money for retirement worries many Canadians, a Statistics Canada survey indicates. About one-third of people aged 45 to 59 don't think they have set enough aside to maintain their standard of living in retirement, the agency reported Tuesday. And few people surveyed in 2002 expected to retire before age 60. Only 22 per cent planned to leave work before age 60, and only 44 per cent planned to retire before age 65. The largest share, 45 per cent, planned to retire between 60 and 65. "Only three per cent said they plan on retiring after 65. The remaining 31 per cent said either that they don't know when they plan on retiring, or that they do not intend to retire," the agency found.

India: Move to boost pension reforms — PPF likely to be phased out (September 1, 2003) 

The proposed pension sector reforms are expected to have a major victim, with the Government considering phasing out the hugely-popular three-decade old Public Provident Fund (PPF) scheme. The Government is considering a gradual phasing out of the PPF scheme in order to provide the pension sector with the necessary `critical mass' to make the new structure viable. It is being argued that if the PPF scheme is phased out, a large portion of the deposits flowing into it would find its way into the proposed pension schemes options since they would also be offering similar benefits on tax, besides providing old age income security.

 India: Towards Retiring An Old Pensioning System (August 30, 2003)

 A gradual erosion of traditional old-age support mechanisms and the rise in elderly population highlights the need for strengthening formal channels of retirement savings. As of now, there is skewed coverage of the existing benefit schemes. It favours the organised work force even as informal employment is on the rise. There has been a worsening of the financial situation of government pension schemes against a background of rising expenditure, an underdeveloped private annuity market and finally, the need to increase the domestic rate of savings through higher contractual savings, to strengthen the capital markets.

Save Australia - keep working (August 28, 2003)

Australia's baby boomers have been asked to ditch ideas of an early retirement in the interests of the country's future.The Federal Minister for Ageing, Kevin Andrews, yesterday called for a huge change in attitude to tackle the workforce problems arising from Australia's ageing population."The change required of employees is to abandon expectations of early retirement and ensure they update their skills so they remain employable," Mr Andrews told the Ageless Workforce Symposium in Sydney. "From time to time, a particular generation of Australians is called upon to rebuild our society in order to secure its ongoing prosperity. That time is now."

French may give up bank holiday to fund elderly care (August 28, 2003)
The French government, struggling with the aftermath of a deadly heatwave this month that killed up to 13,600 mainly elderly people, yesterday suggested cancelling a public holiday to fund better care for the aged. The secretary of state for the elderly, Hubert Falco, said the idea was one of the possibilities being explored "to try to establish genuine solidarity in the nation. It would be a holiday on which people would work in the cause of national solidarity."

Russia: VTB Arm Named Sole Pension Depository (August 28, 2003)
The Finance Ministry named a state-owned company the sole depository for pension funds Wednesday, leading some to question the seriousness of the government's pension reform plans.A subsidiary of Vneshtorgbank, United Depository Co., or ODK, will hold pension savings accounts for those Russians who choose an asset manager, Deputy Finance Minister Bella Zlatkis told reporters. ODK will oversee investments made by companies that are given the right to manage pensions after those firms are announced Sept. 8, she said. Pension accounts for those who do not choose an asset manager by Oct. 15 will automatically be channeled to state-owned Vneshekonombank.

Italy: Italy Seeks to Raises Retirement Age (August 25, 2003)
Premier Silvio Berlusconi's proposal to reform Italy's pension system by raising the retirement age by five years was received with caution Monday by his conservative allies. With Italy's aging population and declining birthrate, reform of Italy's pension system has been a key, albeit thorny, issue for governments in the last decade. The premier said in an interview published Sunday that Italy "needs to raise the retirement age by five years."

UK: No release for elderly from income plans (August 25, 2003)
More than 10,000 pensioners in the United Kingdome are saddled with debts that they can never hope to repay more than a decade after being sold home income plans, consumer groups claim.
Despite regulations against future mis-selling and a campaign to secure compensation for victims, the home income sales scandal lives on.

Brazil States Seek Payback to Support Pension Bill (August 25, 2003)
Most of Brazil's 27 state governors want to obtain concessions for their support on President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's pension bill, which is scheduled for a second-round vote this week, CBN radio station reported. Opposition parties will attempt to derail the bill's voting this week, the station said. The government and allied parties reached a compromise to maintain the text of the pension bill that was passed two weeks ago in a first-round vote.

Japan: Pension funds calm despite JGB jitters (August 25, 2003)
Japan's pension funds have remained a pool of relative calm in recent weeks despite the volatility in Japan government bond (JGB) prices. Funds have been helped by equity gains that have offset bond losses, as well the introduction of policies aimed at diversifying their investment exposure across different asset classes.

Germany: Retire Later? Critics Blast Pension Reform Ideas (August 24, 2003)
The commission exploring ways to save Germany’s pension system has suggested raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. Politicians from across the spectrum have expressed outrage at the idea. Today, 2.3 persons work to support one retiree in Germany. But by 2030, according to reliable demographic estimates, that ratio could be more than halved. The Rürup Commission warns that, without reform, pension contributions would have to rise to between 24% and 25% of gross wages by 2030. Right now they are 19.5 percent.

Germany: Retirees may have to brace for leaner times (August 22, 2003)
The German government is reportedly readying cutbacks in the country's demographically challenged pension system. According to press reports in the daily Handelsblatt and some other media, when the Rürup Commission presents its reform proposals next Thursday it is likely to recommend smaller annual increases or even a freeze in pension payments. Also expected from the commission, which is charged with recommending reforms to the health and social systems, is raising the official retirement age from 65 to 67 by 2025 and a ban on early retirements before age 64.

India: Cabinet to take up new pension plan (August 22, 2003)
A contributory pension scheme for Indian government employees and the proposed National Tax Tribunal will be taken up by the Cabinet tomorrow, official sources said, The new contributory pension scheme, managed by independent fund managers, has been mooted by the Finance Ministry for all government staff employed after October 2002, as part of efforts to reduce the government's pension liabilities.

Canada: Open Medicare to private services: doctors (August 21, 2003)
The Canadian Medical Association is joining a Supreme Court of Canada challenge to help reduce waiting lines and guarantee care for Canadians.
The country's largest medical association is arguing Canadians deserve health-care treatment in a timely fashion and, if that can't be found in their home province, it is incumbent on governments to pay for them to go elsewhere.

Italy: Italy's High Quality of Life and Strained Pension Plans
(August 20, 2003)
Amelia Antonetti retired nine months ago after 31 years as a high school teacher and now spends her days looking after her husband and three grown children. All the while, Mrs. Antonetti, 56, collects 90 percent of her last salary and will do so for the rest of her life. The laws that let Mrs. Antonetti retire when many countries would still consider her to be of working age have helped make Italy's quality of life among the highest in the world. Those same laws are stretching the country's pension system to the limit as the government struggles to pay its obligations to a rapidly aging population.

Brazilian State Employees' Retirements Surge, Folha Reports (August 20, 2003)
Brazilian government employees are retiring at a faster pace this year than last in response to planned changes in the pension law, Folha de S. Paulo reported, citing Ministry of Planning figures. The peak of retirements this year was in April, with 3,537, Folha said, adding that was the month the government sent Congress its proposal to amend the constitution to limit civil servants' pensions.

Korea: Pension scheme under siege (August 20, 2003)
The national pension program is an insurance scheme, under which the payment of benefits and other expenses is financed with contributions from the insured and their employers. The government plays the minimal role of subsidizing farmers and fishermen to a certain extent. If the current level of contributions and benefits is maintained, the pension fund will begin to sustain losses in 2036.

Japan: Govt to tap pension system reserve fund (August 19, 2003)
The government will dip into the reserve fund of the public pension system to maintain payment of benefits equivalent to more than 50 percent of the average income for active workers, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi said Sunday. Sakaguchi said in a program on NHK television that starting in 2004, the fund reserve will fall to a level barely enough to pay pension benefits for just one year in 2100.

Germany: Germans Shun State-Backed Private Pensions, Institute Says (August 19, 2003)
Germans are shunning government-backed private pension plans introduced in 2002 and designed to reduce people's reliance on state retirement benefits, the DIA Institute for Pension Insurance said. The number of people investing in private pensions fell to 5 million in the first half of the year from 5.1 million in 2002. Some 300,000 pensions plans were canceled, exceeding the 200,000 new contracts signed in the first six months, the DIA said.

Singapore: Singapore buffs the surface of an unsound structure
In his annual national day speech last Sunday, Goh Chock Tong, Singapore's prime minister, said the rate would be cut and could drop to as low as 30 per cent from the present 36 per cent, as Singapore revamped the savings fund to reduce costs and stay competitive with other regional cities. "With economic conditions so unpredictable, it would be better to have a range of rates, rather than a fixed rate, so that CPF contributions can be cut in bad years and increased in good years," he said.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico government considers pension bonds (August 18, 2003)
Puerto Rico's Government Development Bank said Tuesday it was considering a $500 million bond sale to help address an $8 billion unfunded liability in its public employee pension fund. Hector Mendez, president of the bank that acts as fiscal agent for the Commonwealth, said pension bonds are part of a larger plan forwarded to the governor to shore up Puerto Rico's pension fund, which provides benefits to the island's large public service sector.

Russia: Pension Fund Misses Notification Deadline (August 18, 2003)
Gearing up for the transition to an investment-based pension system, the Pension Fund promised to send account status notifications to all future pensioners by Aug. 1. Not only did it miss the deadline, but it will not be ready even by Oct. 1. As a result, management companies and government officials have said the fund should give people at least an extra month to pick a manager for their pensions.

Japan: National pension system collapsing as corruption spreads (August 12, 2003)
Since Japan's Social Insurance Agency took over the task of collecting national pension insurance premiums in April of last year; its account receivable has increased by 200 billion yen. The national pension insurance fund is now facing a dangerous financial crisis. The bureaucrats do not seem to be aware of the seriousness of the situation. They seem to believe that they can resolve the problem simply by increasing the age at which people are entitled to receive pensions and decreasing pension payments…

Brazil: Brazil gov't plans to widen pension coverage (August 8, 2003)
The Brazilian government plans to give pension coverage to 40 million workers currently excluded from benefits, Social Security Minister Ricardo Berzoni said on Friday. "We want to present a bill in the second half of 2003 to include domestic workers, the self employed and others so that everyone can benefit," Berzoni said in an interview on Globo television. No figures were given on the cost of the additional coverage.

South Korea: Plan to Trim Pensions Decried (August 8, 2003)
The government will lower the amount of pension payouts again, to 50 percent of the average wage during the contribution period. Labor strongly opposes the move and warned that the labor-government dispute regarding the five-day workweek system could spread to the national pension issue. The umbrella union group also claimed that the government bill lowered the value of the national pension, and demanded that the government maintain the payout rates but lower the insurance premium rates instead. Stay tuned!

New pension plan lets you cherry pick (August 7, 2003)
Under the new pension plan to launched by December, individuals will not only get to choose the scheme, but also pick the fund manager who is offering the best possible return.The government is yet decide the number of fund managers who will be allowed to operate, but will review the earlier proposal of restricting the number at six. Besides, the fund managers may even be allowed to invest in overseas markets.

Brazil: Deal on pension reform reached (August 6, 2003)
Brazilian government leaders in Congress said last night they had reached a deal that should enable approval today of a controversial reform of the public sector pensions system.The reform aims to tackle a long-standing deficit in the system that has increased perceptions of risk among investors and prevented the government from lowering interest rates, an obstacle to faster economic growth.

UK: FTSE pensions debt tops £55bn (August 6, 2003)
Increased taxation, falling share prices and rising bond prices have hit pension funds hard, particularly final salary or defined benefit schemes. FTSE 100 companies' pension scheme liabilities exceed their assets by more than £55 billion, according to an analysis of their accounts under the tough new FRS17 standard. Of the 90 companies in the FTSE 100 with final salary funds, only 13 showed a surplus of assets over liabilities last year.

UK: Don't be scared of pensions (August 5, 2003)
“There is no doubt that the image and reputation of the pensions system in this country have taken a bit of a bashing over the last year or so. Dealing, as we do, directly with the public we in the Pensions Advisory Service (OPAS) have first hand knowledge of many of the problems that are concerning consumers and how they are reacting to them.” What is the problem?

South Africa: Ministers clash about pensions – again (August 4, 2003)
National Minister of Welfare Zola Skweyiya and his KwaZulu-Natal counterpart Gideon Zulu have squared up for yet another bitter turf war after allegations that the latter was using his portfolio for political reasons.The fresh row between the two comes after pensioners in Newcastle claimed their grants had not been renewed because they did not attend an IFP meeting.

Canada: Seniors wait for province to rule on access to pensions (August 2, 2003)
The longer the issue simmers on the backburner, the more Murray Pushka worries the provincial government will stall on changes which would allow retirees to access more of their pension funds. Pushka, a former City of Brandon employee, and a group of local seniors have been after the province to start granting full access upon retirement to the 180,000 Manitobans who have Life Income Funds (LIFs) and Locked-In Retirement Funds (LIRFs)

Chinese Social Security Coverage Continues to Increase (August 3, 2003)
As the nation continues to increase social coverage, more and more Chinese labors are now under the coverage network.  According to records provided by the Labor and Social Security Department, percentage of pensions distributed in full on time have raised from 95% in 1998 to 99.9% now.   

Chinese Enterprise Retiree Social Management Rate over 50%(July 30, 2003)

Enterprise retirement social management service is referred to “after retirement formality, its management duty is no longer managed by its original organization but the local community that the retiree lives.  Pension is managed by the community service organization that provides the corresponding management service.”  Until the end of June, there were total 33,653 thousands enterprise retirees in China.  Among them, there were 17,516 already practicing the social management service.  The rate reached 52%, increased 8.5% comparing to last year.  Experts pointed out that this is important content in the community protection system; it guarantees enterprise retiree having a peace and happy life; it is an important step for increasing living quality, also it pushes community protection system to a fracture point this year

Russia: Pension Reform In Russia: A New Stage (July 30, 2003)
In the summer of 2003, Russia took another step in implementing its pension reform. Part of the pension contributions paid by employers into the Pension Fund, the state institution responsible for the provision of pensions, have for a number of years been entered into people's individual accounts. From 2004, this money will be allowed to roll over. Returns from the process will be accumulated and later paid as supplements to pensions.

Australia: Calls for retirement overhaul (July 29, 2003)
Australians would be encouraged to change to part-time work before retiring and opt for pension-like superannuation payments under an overhaul recommended by a Senate committee.  The committee has recommended a move away from superannuation being paid in lump sums, and suggested programs to help older Australians plan for retirement.

France: France approved pension changes last week in the Continent's latest reform (July 29, 2003)
Not that anyone is proclaiming the death of the welfare state, which has characterized Western Europe since the end of World War II. German workers still enjoy twice as many holidays as their American counterparts, mandatory state insurance schemes guarantee everyone almost cost-free healthcare from Britain to Greece, and French government pensions will remain generous however they are reformed. "The reforms are not an attack on the welfare state so much as an adjustment," says Willi Leibfritz, a senior economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. "They are adapting the welfare state to new challenges." Then why do civilians protest?!

Slow German economy finds bright spot in elder care (July 29, 2003)
Ralf Heinrich first realized his tour company was in trouble in the summer of 2002. Americans, who represented close to half his turnover, were staying home after Sept. 11, 2001, and his company's English-language historical tours of central Munich were sparsely attended. So the German entrepreneur started thinking what services he could offer that would be more in demand. Since last month, instead of whisking camera-toting travelers to the Alps, he has provided home-care workers for Munich's increasing ranks of seniors... 

UK: War, Sars and pensions batter BAA (July 28, 2003)
Complex emergencies and natural disasters affect us more than we think. Profts at London airports operator BAA slumped by more than 11% in the first quarter as post-9/11 security costs, extra pension contributions, the Sars virus and the Iraq war all took their toll. Such decline has resulted in a strike of the British Airways employees. But who exactly can we blame now? Stay tuned!

Japan: Japan's Pensions Seek Investments That Beat Indexes (July 28, 2003)
Japan's biggest pension fund, which lost $21 billion of taxpayers' money last fiscal year, plans to invest more money in funds that try to pick winners, rather than those that match benchmark indexes, in an effort cut its losses. The Government Pension Investment Fund's decision to try to pick funds with the best-performing stocks follows two years of pouring money into so-called passively managed funds that track industry benchmarks.

Bangladesh: Mixed reaction to move to raise retirement age (July 27, 2003)
Bangladesh - There has been a mixed reaction among the civil servants over the government move to raise their retirement age from 57 to 60. However, the majority of the government officials are happy with the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Private Members Bills to put an end to contractual appointments in the administration. The committee also recommended that the retirement age be raised from 57 to 60. About the government move to raise the retirement age, the senior bureaucrats are happy, but the junior officials of the rank of deputy secretary and below believe that the decision would not solve the problem of promotion backlog.

Hong Kong: Ex-HSBC pensions exec markets life-policy ABS (July 25, 2003)
NewHaven is introducing a guaranteed bond to Asian institutions based on senior life insurance settlements. It is presently in talks with four or five large Hong Kong-based institutions considering investing. Humphreys' next marketing stop is Japan. The firm hopes to launch its first senior life settlement ABS by the end of the year, with a minimum of $60 million raised.

Tbilisi (Republic of Georgia) intends to pay pensions with bonds (July 23, 2003)

Massive protests and demonstrations in support of pensioners resumed all over the country. Six members of Eternal National Movement have been on a food strike in the  Ministry of Justice for a week now.  The major reason is belated pension compensations. The opposition insists that the Government close a 1,2 million lari pension debt to elderly (about $600,000), which the current State budget cannot cover.  Commenting on the situation, political secretary of the Eternal National movement, member of the parliament Mr. Koba Davitashvili, explained: “We are talking about miserable pensions of 14 lari (about $6.50) hich elderly do not get for months, and sometimes for years. If the government consciously dooms these people to starvation and death, we will share their fate, since we are not able to do more”. (original text in Russian)

Pension reform has modified political and trade-union’s prospective (July 23, 2003)
The bill on pension reform will be definitively adopted on Thursday, July 24, by French National Assembly and then by Senate. Two solemn votes will ratify what François Fillon, the Minister for the social affairs, called the "most important reform after Liberation". Trade unions struggling against the Fillon plan, gave up struggling. Now, opinions vary over the inner tension among unions and why certain trade unions chose to quit. Who will voice the interests of population? (Original text in French)

Poor aging or Aging poverty (July 23, 2003)
The pension fund of Russia has decided to become accessible for the future pensioners and make them happy with the prospective of “careless aging”. However, Deputy Minister of Finance said that internal and external debt in 2-3 years will reach 25 and 75%, which means additional billions of rubles must be invested in the state bonds. This will allow the government to cover its external debt. How will they achieve that? Pension investments in the state funds will solve the problem. As the result pension money will work for the purposes of economy! (Original text in Russian)

Pensions: the bubble-wrapped euphonium will do nicely (July 21, 2003)
UK -
When considering a stakeholder pension, try to avoid standing in a queue at the Post Office behind someone bubble-wrapping a euphonium. From personal experience, I can tell you that it doesn’t get any better when you get to the counter. This was my fate after putting to the test a happy-clappy, "we’re-only-here-for-you" announcement from the Treasury last year that stakeholder pensions were now available at post offices. What could be simpler than just popping into my local PO and getting a quick briefing on the ease and simplicity of stakeholder pensions?

Pensions: Mestre CGIA, Accounts Better, Reforms not Needed (July 19, 2003)
Rome, Italy, - The social security accounts seem to be doing better: according to a study done by the Research Office of the CGIA Trade Union of Mestre, the cover tax (or the relationship between the contributions coming in and the money paid out to pensioners) has risen from 61.5 per cent in 1992 to 71.4 per cent in 2002. Today, for every 100 euro spent on pensions, 71.4 are covered by contributions being paid in by those in employment. However, the number of pensioners compared to the number in employment continues to rise In 1982 they made up 60.4 per cent, now they comprise 70.6 per cent. (original text in Italian)

MPs attack pensions change as confusing (July 18, 2003)
Members of British Parliament yesterday accused the government of pushing through the new system of direct payment of pensions and benefits into bank accounts simply to save money and without regard to the "anxiety and confusion" created among the vulnerable.

Strike at chemicals firm over pensions (July 18, 2003)
More than 600 workers of French-owned chemical firm “Rhodia” are on strike at two of its UK plants over pensions. Workers are protesting over plans to close the firm's pension scheme to new entrants. The decision to end current pension arrangements for new members has followed years of under-funding by the company.

Brazil's Lula Prepares to Send Pension Legislation to Congress (July 17, 2003)  
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva presented the pension reform legislation to the Congress on July 17. The proposal originally aimed to reduce the nation's annual $20 billion pension system deficit. But strong opposition from federal workers forced him to accept a compromise bill that limits cuts to retirement benefits. The bill presented today would reduce pension costs by 16.5 billion reais ($5.8 billion), or 4 percent less than Lula's original plan.

Canada: More pension troubles seen (July 15, 2003)

A new study suggests that Canada's top companies are being overly optimistic about their troubled corporate pension plans. The study points out that the surge in the funding shortfall of companies’ pension plans means “more pension pain to come in the form of rising deficits and growing contributions in future years”. The funding shortfall at Canada's largest companies with defined benefit pension plans on the S&P/TSX 60-stock index ballooned to $16.6-billion last year from $3.5-billion in 2001.


India: Old-age pension scheme launched (July 15, 2003)

The Indian government on July 14 announced two amendments to the old-age pension scheme during a ceremony while  Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, handed over policy documents to pension beneficiaries. Amendments will allow premature withdrawal of the pension amount after 15 years and a loan for a pension policy-holder from the Life Insurance Corporation to the extent of 75 per cent of the premium amount. The interest rate for the loan would be 8.5 per cent per annum for now and revised periodically.


Japan: Recovery 'at risk from pensions shortfall' (July 15, 2003)

A study shows that Japan's top 300 companies have pensions shortfalls totalling Y23,000bn ($196bn). The figure is the difference between the companies' pensions obligations and the value of the assets invested in their pension schemes at the end of 2002. These future pensions liabilities are likely to absorb recent recovery in earning in Japanese companies.


UK: Pension credits will be trouble-free, MPs told (July 15, 2003)

As payments of pension credit will begin in October, the UK government reassured MPs that the pension credit is “on track”. The government used a "tried and tested" computer system and had adopted a new approach of phased implementation. However, many people are still concerned about the complexity of the pension credit.


Brazil's Lula: Pension-Reform Plans Should Stay Unchanged ( July 14, 2003)

Many federal government workers went on strike to protest the reforms to do away with existing benefits, such as retiring with full salary and receiving pension benefits tax-free. In response, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on July 14, 2003 that his government's proposal to reform the nation's retirement funds should remain unchanged.


China: 35 billion not enough to cover the pension black hole (July 14, 2003) (in Chinese)

The national Pension fund has become the target of profit-seeking in China. Some companies and individuals are taking advantage of loopholes in the existing social pension system for personal benefits. It seems the original budget of RMB 35 billion is not enough to cover the black hole. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, please install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


Australia: Financial illiteracy threat to retirement (July 12, 2003)

A study reveals that few Australians have a financial plan in place, and most are expected to depend on public pensions when they reach retirement. About 80 per cent of Australians will have an annual income in retirement of just $12,000. The author warned that the situation “won’t change unless Australians get up to speed with financial market dynamics”.


Brazil strikers claim success (July 9, 2003)

Estimated between 40% to 50% of Brazil’s 900,000 public sector workers joined the strike to derail sweeping pension reforms and have claimed success after the first day of strikes. However, the country’s largest union confederation has not joined the strike, instead opting to try to negotiate changes in the reforms with the government. Despite strikes, Brazil President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva has vowed to press ahead with the reforms.


India: PM to launch pension scheme on July 14 (July 9, 2003)

Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, will launch a pension scheme called `Varishta Bima Pension Yojana' in New Delhi on July 14. The Finance Minister said the government would set up a subsidised annuity scheme with an interest of nine per cent for senior citizens between 55 and 79. The government may also consider increasing the upper age limit under the yojana.


Canada: Airline, unions hash out pensions (July 8, 2003)

As Air Canada's pension deficit has grown to $1.8 billion, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) in Ottawa has recently expressed "concern" in a letter to the insolvent airline "over the lack of progress made in addressing the under-funding of the Air Canada pension plans." Air Canada and its unions will meet tomorrow and the growing deficit could threaten the viability of concessions packages already ratified by its nine unions.


Ghana: GNAT scribe deplores delay in pension payments (July 8, 2003)

The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) called on the government to stop the delays in pension payments to save retired teachers from dying because of misery. Teachers expressed their disappointment at the government for “taking the plight of teachers lightly” as some of them who retired eight months ago have still not been paid.


Israeli labor relations no longer include pension commitment (July 7, 2003)

Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman MK Amir Perez again called for a pension law to require every employer insure every worker in a pension fund. He said that one million people will be penniless in 20 years and a pension for every worker must be legislated.


Japan: Welfare breaks for elderly divorcees hit (July 4, 2003)

The Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced a welfare proposal that would divide employee pension benefits between salaried employees and their dependent spouses. Currently, salaried workers' dependent spouses, mostly women, are not required to contribute to the national pension system but are able to receive basic pension benefits in their old age. But some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party criticized the proposal would only drive up the divorce rate.


Chinese Finance Ministry suspected to mismanage social security fund (July 3, 2003) (in Chinese)

The Chinese Auditing Department is investigating a 6 billion Yuan social security fund, managed by the Social Security Department of Finance Ministry. Profits of the fund in the form of interest are suspected to have been distributed to a group or even an individual. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, please install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


France Passes Law Overhauling Pensions as Opposition Crumbles (July 3, 2003)

Despite serious strikes in protest of the pension reform bill, the French National Assembly (lower house of parliament) passed by 389-132 the law that will raise the number of years people pay into the state funds and grant tax breaks for private retirement plans. The new pension law increases the number of years civil servants need to pay into the mandatory state pension fund by 2 1/2 years to a total of 40 years to bring them into line with those of private employees.


France May Pass Law Granting Tax Breaks for Pensions (July 2, 2003)

The French National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, will vote on a law of granting tax incentives to private pensions. This move is expected to attract at least 100 billion euros ($116 billion) in savings over the next decade. The law includes creating tax-deductible retirement plans for individuals and incentives for a new corporate retirement plan.


India: UTI Mutual Fund plans foray into pension sector (July 2, 2003)

UTI Mutual Fund, the biggest fund in India, plans to bid for setting up a pension fund once the government lays down Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority in October this year. The Finance Ministry plans to open up the country's pension sector to private players.


The Pension Fund will get Russians thinking of aging (July 2, 2003) (in Russia)

By August 1st, 40 million Russians will receive notification from the pension fund on the amounts available on their pension accounts. Such notification letters will also be sent to men younger than 50 and women younger than 45, in order to increase their consciousness on the pension issue. According to the new regulations, each citizen has the right to choose the company (whether public or private) that will be authorized to manage his/her pension savings. This new regulation will grow into a big concern for those citizens who receive “under the table money” from their employers. “Zero balance on  pension accounts will get them thinking!” – says Deputy Chief of Pension Fund. (The text is in Russia.)


Russians will be able to check their pension accounts online (July 2, 2003) (in Russia)

In early July, the Pension Fund will demonstrate the trial version of pension software to the Prime Minister. The software will make it possible for Russian citizens to check their pension accounts, relocate to another pension funds, make investments. The government hopes that the pension system will become more reliable and stable. (The text is in Russia.)


U.K. May Lift Retirement Age to 70, Ease Pension Cost (July 2, 2003)

The UK government may raise the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 70 and make it illegal for companies to force workers to retire any earlier. UK Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt proposed the age raise, which aims at stopping discrimination against older workers. She believed ``it will provide more choice and flexibility for those who wish to stay in work.''


Australia: $800,000 to keep up with pe nsion (July 1, 2003)

Economists warned that a predicted fall in interest rates would see the already poor returns on investments deteriorate even further for struggling retirees in Australia. In comparison with couples receiving pensions from Centrelink, self-funded retiree couples now need $800,000 in interest earning assets to be as well off as Centrelink aged pensioners.


UK: Barclays launches low-risk pension scheme (July 1, 2003)

Barclays in UK has launched a new lower-risk pension scheme, called Afterwork, which will guarantee staff a percentage of their pension pot. The scheme, with two elements, the Credit Account and the Investment Account, offers greater security. The Credit Account is guaranteed not to fall in value and it may even go up to reflect inflation and investment performance.


Czech: Government finally opens a door to pension reform debate (June 30, 2003)

The current Czech coalition government opened the door for a debate on pension issues by announcing a reform proposal recently. It was less than a year ago when pension reform was almost unmentionable in the Czech Republic. The Czech Pension Fund Association (APF) has a reform proposal to allow employees options to use their social security to invest in pension funds.


Europe's retired face pension squeeze (June 30, 2003)

A population that is both living longer and producing fewer children has produced political uncertainty and crowds of angry demonstrators in European countries. Reacting to the shift from youth to the aged, governments are moving to reduce social services, including the pensions that millions have been counting on for their golden years.


Japan: Ministry considers minimum pension (June 30, 2003)

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is considering lowering the minimum level of pension payments from 59 percent to 50 to 55 percent of the average net income of the active workforce. It also is tackling the situation where, as a result of declining birthrates or economic conditions becoming worse than expected, the level of pension payments under the new plan falls below 50 percent.


UK: Older staff set for lower redundancy (June 30, 2003)

A forthcoming law in UK will reduce the redundancy pay for older workers who lose their jobs. According to the law, employees aged 41 and above must receive payment of at least a week and a half pay for every year of service above the age of 41 with their employer. Under the new proposal, that payment would be only one week for each year. Age campaigners accused the proposal as another blow for the beleaguered older worker.


China: Two Years to Establish a Social Management System for Enterprise Retirees (June 29, 2003) (in Chinese)

China Labor and Social Security Department recently urged relevant governmental agencies at all levels to complete the establishment of a social management system for enterprise retirees within two years. The system requires community service agencies rather than retirees’ companies to handle pension payments and provide services to retirees. Nationwide, 49.4% of the enterprise retirees are currently in the social management system. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, please install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


Russians to get pension accrual notices beginning July 1 (June 27, 2003)

During his visit to Pension fund’s information center, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said pension reform would be felt by virtually every person, beginning July 1, 2003. He said “Russian residents will be updated on their pension accruals, i.e. the sums their employers have paid to the Pension Fund”.


Brazil Congress to Skip Break for Tax, Pension Bills (June 26, 2003)

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on lawmakers to speed up consideration and passage of pending legislation. Lawmakers agreed to skip a July recess to vote on president’s pension and tax bills. The bills are aimed at reducing the budget deficit and ensuring Brazil can keep up payments on $400 billion of debt. He said the tax and pension bills are needed to spur economic growth and  “create the jobs that we want to create''.


India: Nod for IOC, ONGC early retirement plans (June 25, 2003)

The Indian government today approved the voluntary retirement schemes proposed by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). According to the schemes, employees choosing voluntary retirement will be paid a compensation of 60 days' salary for each completed year of service or the salary for the number of service years left, whichever is less, apart from the normal retirement benefits. They would also receive additional monetary benefit. It is estimated that about 2,000 employees of ONGC and 1,000 in IOC will opt for voluntary retirement under these schemes.


Israel:  Scores of port employees apply for early retirement (June 25, 2003)

Many employees aged 50 and above at the Haifa and Ashdod ports in Israel have applied for early retirement because they are worried about pension reforms.  Many other employees at the ports have asked the Ports Authority for advice regarding the significance of the pension reform to them.


Iraq: Ex-soldiers to receive pensions (June 24, 2003)

The U.S.-led administration will begin paying pensions to former members of Saddam Hussein's military. Up to 250,000 former career soldiers will be eligible for pensions starting from July 14. Depending on the rank, the payment will be from $50 to $150 a month, about what they earned on active duty.


South Africa: Logistical problems blamed for pension payment hassles (June 24, 2003)

Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), one of two companies responsible for the distribution of social grants in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa, was blamed for bad services such as long queues, late arrivals, the length of time taken to process grants and the location of paypoints. The Eastern Cape government threatened to take back six districts in which CPS recently began operating.  The chairperson of CPS said a number of logistical issues have contributed to these problems around pension payouts in the Eastern Cape.


Brazilian judge set to challenge pension cuts (June 23, 2003)

Following a protest meeting last week, the head of Brazil's Supreme Court rejected the government proposal to have their pensions taxed and capped at R$2,400 (US$ 832) and demanded the right for the judiciary to present its own reform plans. It is the most serious threat yet to the government's pension reform, which aims to reduce an annual social security deficit of 5 per cent of gross domestic product.


Japan: Elderly can contribute monetarily to society (June 23, 2003)

As consumption remains stagnant due to the ongoing economic downturn in Japan, the government is trying to reduce pension benefits in order to contain growing social security spending. The author of the article believes that senior citizens can be seen as vital to the economy in this sluggish economy due to their purchasing power. However, he also points out that “moves are afoot to stifle these elderly geese before they can lay their golden eggs”.


French MPs approve key pension reform (June 20, 2003)

The French National Assembly (lower house) approved to increase the number of years worked for a full pension by 87 votes to 20 on June 20. After 10 days of debates, this key article in a controversial pension reform bill that has led to nationwide strikes and transport chaos passed the lower house.


UK: Sun, sea and a lump sum keeps the sangria flowing (June 20, 2003)

In the U.K., strict rules force people to spend three-quarters of a personal pension fund on annuities. As a result, less restrictive rules on pensions makes retiring abroad attractive, and many people retire to countries such as France, Spain, Ireland and even Australia where the rules about what one can spend the personal pension fund on are much more relaxed.  But there are dangerous hazards involved.


Japan: The pension system in peril (June 18, 2003)

As the economy turns down and aging accelerates among the population, Japan’s pension program registered a nearly 700 billion yen deficit in fiscal year 2001. The author is worried about the deficit, saying “it reflects a continuing deterioration, not just a temporary decline, in public pension finances.”


Pension plea sent to all French homes (June 17, 2003)

As the pension reform sparked weeks of strikes in France, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is sending a personal letter to every French household to explain why the reforms are essential to deal with the growing number of the elderly. In an attempt to be involved in the discussion, workers’ strikes disrupted education, transport, and other parts of the public sector as unions maintained their opposition to the plans. The union is planning its next wave of strike within a week.


India: LIC postpones pension plan for senior citizens (June 17, 2003)

Life Insurance Corporation announced today in Mumbai, India to postpone the launch of Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana, a government-subsidised scheme for senior citizens aged between 55-79. The government is likely to launch the scheme within a month.


UK: Red faces over wrongly-worded pensions green paper (June 17, 2003)

The British government’s pensions green paper was found in contradiction with ministers’ speeches last week. The Department of Work and Pensions will be forced to send out hundreds of letters explaining the new wording. It has already taken several days for the department to clarify the situation and admit the wording was wrong.


Canada: Pension tax laws loosened (June 16, 2003)

The Canadian government has loosened the federal tax laws to allow some funds to generate larger surpluses to help withstand market downturns. New regulations extend the contribution limit from 10 percent to 25 percent.


UK: Legal loophole threat to pension safety (June 16, 2003)

A lawyer warned that a loophole in the British draft law could threaten the effectiveness of the promised pension safeguards for members of final salary schemes. The government-funded Occupational Pensions Advisory Service said it feared members might not receive the protection promised. The government laid down the draft regulations, which require solvent employers to pay pension entitlements in full if a scheme is wound up.


South Africa: Radical Measures Set to Overhaul Pension Funds (June 13, 2003)

The South African Finance Minister proposed radical changes to reverse the near-fatal decline in the pension funds industry. He proposed to increase investment opportunities for small pension fund with values below Sh5 million, raise the maximum ceiling per contributor to SH20,000, and reduce the vesting period for employer contributions to three years.  These measures addressed the failure of companies, workers benefits and required vesting periods.


French Strike Against Cuts in Pensions Jams Traffic (June 11, 2003)

Protests against the reform of the French pensions system veered towards outright revolt yesterday, with tens of thousands of teachers and transport workers tied up traffic in Paris. The demonstration, coinciding with the start of a parliamentary debate on pensions reform, turned the boulevards and avenues of central Paris into a sea of blocked cars. The legislature is expected to vote on the bill in a few weeks.


Israeli pension reform possibly costly to banks (June 11, 2003)

The pension reform in Israel is expected to be costly to the banks due to their streamlining programs in recent years.  Some of the banks will be faced with hundreds of millions of shekels in added costs. The reform includes allowances for the early retirement of hundreds of employees.


Angola: Portugal Has No Objections Concerning Pension Payment (June 10, 2003)

The Portuguese ambassador to Angola said Tuesday that Portugal has no "Philosophical objections" with regard to the payment of allowances to the Angolan pensioners of the then colonial administration. The ambassador said he understands perfectly the legitimacy of the claims.


France suffers fresh strike chaos (June 10, 2003)

France is in the grip of fresh nationwide strikes which are severely hitting transport and education. Militant trade unions virtually brought the country to a halt on the day the government put its pension reform plans before parliament.


Indian Government may allow more than six pension funds (June 10, 2003)

The Indian Cabinet, moved by the finance ministry, may allow six or more pension funds in the new sector. The ministry had earlier restricted the number of pension funds to six because allowing too many options could create problems of choice for the depositors. But the government loosened this restriction, as several domestic mutual fund companies as well as fund management companies from abroad have sent delegations to protest restrictions on the number of pension funds.  It may be very difficult for workers to detect which plan is better than another.  High advertising costs, administrative costs, and profit-taking  reduce the amount of monies available to be returned in pensions.


UK: Strike expected in defense of final salary pension scheme (June 10, 2003)

A British union said that workers at a chemical company were expected to vote to strike over keeping its final salary pension scheme open to future workers there. Last year, workers at Caparo, the steel company, were successful in Britain's first strike in defense of a final salary scheme for existing workers. These disputes highlight the rapid rise of pensions to the top of the trade unions' agenda.


New Zealand: Few Kiwis saving for super (June 9, 2003)

A survey shows that less than half of New Zealanders are actively saving for their retirement despite their disbelief of superannuation for old-age income support. The survey found 75 percent respondents said “current superannuation levels were not enough to support them in retirement.” However, only 49 percent are saving for their retirement.


UK: Unions' warning on safety net for pensions (June 9, 2003)

Bad news for British pensioners.  Andrew Smith, the British work and pensions minister, announced plans this week to scrap the rule to raise pensioners’ payment to adjust for inflation. Union leaders yesterday warned ministers not to remove the schemes that protect millions of pension scheme members from rising prices. Union leaders also welcomed plans to bring in a safety net to pay pensions to employees of bankrupt companies.


South Africa: Government Denies Pension Fund Liability (June 8, 2003)

The South African National Treasury said in a brief statement on Friday that the miscalculation in the consumer price inflation (CPIX) and the revision of the figures in late May was a technical shift rather than a fundamental. The difference between a fundamental and technical change is critical, since pension funds have to bear a loss of about R700m as a direct result of the revision.


Canada: Top court will hear pension case, Judges to tackle who gets surplus (June 6, 2003)

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case over whether pension surpluses should be divided at the time of a mass layoff, a widely watched case involving 146 former employees of Monsanto Canada Inc. Two lower courts in Ontario have already ruled that companies are required to pay a share of any surplus at the time of a mass layoff.


Europe: Generation gap (June 6, 2003)

Governments across Europe are struggling with an explosive issue: how to reform pension provision for the elderly without alienating the young. The article analyzes the pension situation in Europe, following strikes in several European countries in the last month.


Japan: Fiscal panel urges review of pension benefits (June 6, 2003)

The Japanese Fiscal System Council will submit the report on June 9, 2003, to the Finance Minister, stating that cuts in pension benefits to both current and future beneficiaries may be considered to alleviate the deteriorating financial health of the public pension scheme. It is the first time that the council has specified the need to consider a reduction in the level of pension benefits.


Barbados: Dr. Williams calls for restructuring of private pension plans (June 5, 2003)

The World Bank ideology to privatize pension funds has hit the Caribbean as speeches as a major conference reveals.  However, the twin issues of lack of jobs for working age persons and the absence of contributions from workers in other countries may change some governments’ minds about the wisdom of privatization.


At the opening of a three-day symposium yesterday, Dr. Marion Williams, the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, called for a restructuring of private pension plans. He said “while such reforms had already started, many of the considerations discussed in the context of public funds need to be applied to private pension funds as well.”


Firms cut cap spending to plug pension holes-survey (June 5, 2003)

Some 22 percent of mid-sized firms in four of the world's largest economies are cutting capital spending due to the gap between current assets and expected pension liabilities. Firms in Britain, the United States, Canada and Holland with underfunded pension schemes are changing their business plans as a result of the big gap.


The Retirement and the withdrawal (June 5, 2003) (in French)

In a Le Monde editorial, the writer acknowledges that the government has appeared to win its effort to match the retirement age in the public sector with that in the private.  However, Le Monde decries the government’s methods which imposed this “reform” without dialogue or widespread discussion with the unions and other affected workers and their families.  The government ignored the  “social contract” which will make governing less democratic in the future.


West Europe Is Hard Hit by Strikes Over Pensions (June 4, 2003)

Sharing the same grievance over governments’ proposals to change the national pension systems, protesting workers in Austria and France shut down subway systems, ports, trains, toll roads and airlines today. Smaller strikes also erupted in Italy and Germany. Flight attendants at Alitalia, the Italian airline, called in sick to protest job cuts, while steelworkers in eastern Germany picketed factories to demand the same 35-hour work week that their counterparts in western Germany have.


The mobilization weakens, Mr. Raffarin asserts his "determination" (June 4, 2003) (in French)

The demonstrations against the Fillon’s project on  retirement gathered less protesters that on the preceding event of May 13.  The strike, notably in the transportation sector, did not provoke the dreaded paralysis.  The prime minister is heard to continue "to reform"  He has anxiously mobilized the National Assembly with the statement: “You can count on the determination of the government to reform the Republic as we are moving to the matter of the survival of the Republic”.  (Full text in French)


For the referendum on pensions (June 4, 2003) (in French)

Retirement used to considered « the antechamber of  death »  Europeans used to stop working at 65 in order to die at 70. Today, retirement has become a second life; it combines hard work and fear of not having a pension at the end. France must face the demographic distortions immediately, but this distortion is noted as a new plateau, not a new tendency. Either in hundred years or in fifty, the choice will be the same: what portion of wealth will go to the active citizens and what goes to the retired ones, in the world where there will be many of both?  While the debate on retirement looks simple, the case of retirement is very explosive.


Canada: Reform seen in reporting firms' pension obligations (June 3, 2003)

As the tumult in stock markets over the past three years has depleted the surpluses of many pension plans, the accounting profession in Canada is considering write tough new rules for how companies report their long-term obligations to retired employees. The Accounting Standard Board head said the process to review accounting rules for pension plans will likely be a lengthy one.


China: Firms to sign pension pact (June 3, 2003)

China’s National Council for Social Security Fund is expected to sign agreements with six domestic fund management firms to allow them to invest a greater proportion of the pension fund in China's stock markets. The fund will give each company a proportion of the money ranging from 2 billion yuan (US$240.96 million) to 3 billion yuan to invest in the two local-currency Class-A share markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen.


Israel: Insurance Supervisor appoints temporary supervisors for 4 old pension funds (June 3, 2003)

The Israeli Insurance Supervisor today unexpectedly announced the appointment of special temporary supervisors for the management of four older pension funds, which have an aggregate actuarial deficit of NIS 140 billion. This is seen as an action of the Ministry of Finance to impose its pressure on the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel).


Kenya: MPs shield Moi in pension battle (June 3, 2003)

In Kenya, the MPs, led by opposition leader Uhuru Kenyatta, were unhappy with the Presidential Retirement Bill, which bars beneficiaries of the pension scheme from participating in politics. The MPs warned the Narc government against harassing retired President Moi and called for changes in the Bill.


Austrians In Mass Walkout Tuesday To Protest Pension Cuts (June 2, 2003)

Austria experienced a second wave of crippling strikes within a month Tuesday. The strike came after talks between the government and the Austrian Trade Union Federation broke down. The first mass strike this year was on May 6, to protest at government plans to save more than EUR2 billion over the next four years by slashing state pensions.


France: Pensions nouveaux (June 2, 2003)

As unions are furious about the reform plan, France faces another strike this week. The French government has tried to reform the pension system in 1990s, but failed due to tremendous opposition and protests. This time Mr. Raffarin appears to have more firepower, as opinion polls show the French are aware of the need for reform. As the French government tries to forestall a pension crisis, Europe watches and unions seethe.


UK: Move for compulsory insurance for pensions (June 2, 2003)

As pressure mounts on the British government to provide a safety net for workers, proposals for a compulsory insurance scheme for final salary pensions are being drawn up. Representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions and the Government Actuary's Department, met executives of the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation last month. They studied pension insurance and regulation schemes in Finland, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.


The Politics of Public Pension Reform (May 2003)

Public old-age pension programs are the largest single item of public expenditures in most advanced industrial countries. These pension systems have been buffeted by a number of pressures for change in recent years, however, notably an aging population, slower revenue growth, and competitive pressures to limit payroll taxes. Thus it is hardly surprising that pensions have received much attention from policymakers, and caused enormous political conflict, both in the United States and abroad. Policymakers have three very broad sets of options for responding to the increased funding demands of their pension systems: they can cut back on the generosity of specific provisions of their pension programs through retrenchment, refinance their pension programs, or restructure their pension programs. This paper attempts to understand cross-national patterns of pension policymaking as well as distinctive patterns in the United States. For executive summary, click


Whose Money is it Anyhow?: Governance and Social Investment in Collective Investment Funds (May 2003)

Over the past two decades, an aging population and budgetary stress have led to substantial changes in public pension systems throughout the world. Many countries initially responded to pension funding crises with incremental reforms. A number of countries have also engaged in a more fundamental restructuring of their pension systems. These seemingly disparate responses to the pension funding crisis in fact raise a common set of issues about the public/private divide in governance of such funds. This paper examines how several OECD countries have addressed the “public/private divide” in collective investment "buffer" funds, drawing on the experience of Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, as well as the Swedish experience with a “default fund” (for those who do not make an active fund choice) in the individual account defined contribution tier of its public system. For executive summary, click


India: Pension to cover state staff, voluntary sector (May 30, 2003)

The Indian government is planning to implement a new pension plan first for the new civil servants and voluntary sector people. The new plan, a defined contribution scheme, will pre-define the contribution to the scheme. The returns are provided to the members based on the performance of the scheme and not guaranteed.


Japan finalises rules for pension asset transfer (May 30, 2003)

Japan's Health Ministry on Friday finalised rules for the transfer of assets from corporate schemes to the state pension fund. According to the new rule, the handover is allowed starting from September 1 and corporate funds can hand back an amount set by the government in either cash or securities. It is estimated that this new rule could affect 10 trillion yen ($85 billion) or more of assets.


Pension schemes under pressure (May 30, 2003)

A two-day conference, jointly organised by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Paris-based Organisation for OECD, Institute of Insurance and Risk Management and International Network for Pension Regulators and Supervisors, is being held in Hyderabad, India. It discussed the increasing pressure on pension schemes across the world, particularly in developing countries, due to low returns on investments and public reluctance to join them.


Four unions call for the « general mobilisation » (May 29, 2003) (in French)

The determination of Jean-Pierre Raffarin to continue with the reform, has met strong opposition from labor unions. The unions have arranged for the major meeting to plan their further actions. The suggested strategy is to amplify the mobilization and to organize general strike and demonstrations on 3rd June. "Only general movement of public and private entities, will make the government  revise its harmful decision," stated the four unions.  They reaffirmed that "there is a requirement of a true negotiation and of a democratic debate to construct the reformation project guaranteeing the future of the retirement."  (full text in French)


Pension : The government takes firm position facing the unions (May 28, 2003) (in French)

On 28th May, the Council of Ministers legally approved the project of pension reform. The Secretary of the State, Mr. Fillon has announced this reform “well-grounded and urgent,” as it is a “must” for public affairs. The Unions have been officially warned on Europe 1, that the external pressure cannot be made on the parliament discussion. President Chirac and Minister on Social Affairs Mr. Raffarin do not intend to revise the project on reforming pension system after its adoption by the Council of Ministers. Does this mean the final point has been made on the first phase of the reform?! (Full text in French)


Brazil's Pension Bill to Lure Investments (May 28, 2003)

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's efforts to overhaul the nation's pension system and slow inflation attracts more U.S. investment in the country. While the California Public Employees' Retirement System endorsed the idea of investing in Brazil, the social security reform and reduction of government spending is critical for Brazil to continue to attract more foreign capital.


French Cabinet approves pension reform plan in face of strike threats (May 28, 2003)

France's centre-right government today approved a draft bill to overhaul the country's costly public sector pensions system, signalling its determination not to back down in the face of mounting union protests. But the unions showed little sign they were willing to lower the tempo as they prepared for another day of national action on Tuesday.


Australia: Hollingworth pension plan under fire (May 27, 2003)

Tanya Pibersek, Australian Labor MP, said today that “ordinary Australians would be disturbed at the size of the governor-general pension”. She claimed that Mr. Hollingworth's pension, worth more then $180,000 a year, seemed excessive.


Canada: Policy options for the pension crisis  (May 27, 2003)

While Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien claims changes to the Canada Pension Plan will leave it financially sound for the rest of this century, others want  more radical changes in retirement plans. Several policy options are suggested in dealing with the challenges that Canadian pension system is facing.


India: No fixed pension for new government employees (May 27, 2003)

New government employees in India will have to shell out 7.5-10 per cent of their basic pay towards pension. And the government will not guarantee any fixed pension. The current system grants government retirees an assured pension, which is at present 50 per cent of their last drawn salary. The Indian finance ministry will soon place a proposal before the Cabinet to operationalise the new pension system.


New Zealand: Retirement age chewed over (May 27, 2003)

In New Zealand, 25 percent of meat workers over 50 would not retire at the age of 65. Some are concerned that people in manual jobs, especially meat workers, may feel obliged to keep working after they turn 65 even though they are not physically capable. To deal with a ballooning superannuation bill, Treasury of New Zealand suggested pushing the retirement age from 65 to 70.


Swiss push to raise retirement age (May 27, 2003)

The Swiss government faces a hard time to cope with the rapidly increasing pension deficit as life expectancy rises, birth rate decline, and the stock price slump. It is estimated that the ratio of workers to retirees will increase from three to one today to three to two in 2040. Swiss President Pascal Couchepin plans to increase workers' retirement age to 67 and decrease payments to retirees to deal with the situation.


UK: Firms raise retirement age for pensions (May 27, 2003)

A survery of 300 companies by Norwich Union shows that millions of employees in U.K. could be forced to work for longer years than they had anticipated to be eligible for their company pension. Almost two-thirds of surveyed companies are planning to raise the retirement age. Employees will either have to work until the new higher age, or accept lower pension incomes for a longer retirement. Will older workers be protected against age discrimination on their jobs?


Zimbabwe: $4bn missing from ZESA pension fund (May 27, 2003)

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) pension fund is reported to have been prejudiced of more than $4.1 billion after the power utility apparently withdrew funds to pay off exit packages to several workers who had retired before their mandatory retirement age of 60 years. Under normal circumstances, the pension funds are only withdrawn to pay retirees, not used as exit packages.


German drug coverage bill stirs heated debate (May 26, 2003)

Germany's upper house of Parliament approved a motion on Friday opposing a highly controversial law that would cut in half the number of drugs covered by Germany's public health insurance system. The proposed law is designed to save Germany’s  public health insurance 800 million euros per year.


Workers March Through Paris to Protest Pension Reform (May 25, 2003)

Hundreds of thousands of French workers, teachers and students marched through Paris on May 25 in a demonstration intended to step up pressure on the government over pensions and other issues. The police in the capital estimated that around 300,000 people participated in the march while protesters claimed a much higher turnout.


Urgent pension reform needed in Italy (May 23, 2003)

Antonio D’Amato, the head of Italian employers' body Confindustria called for early implementation of the conservative government's pension reform plans to boost the stagnant economy. The Italian senate is currently discussing a framework law that provides incentives to delay retirement. The bill may be ready before the 2004 budget is presented in September.


Malaysia: LIAM proposes private pension scheme (May 23, 2003)

The Life Insurance Association of Malaysia, a health insurance company in Malaysia, proposed to the government to consider establishing private pension schemes. As most retiring Malaysians might not have sufficient retirement income by relying totally on their Employees Provident Fund, private pension schemes aim to assist ageing Malaysians achieve financial independence after their retirement.


Sri Lanka: Pension scheme, housing programme for estate sector (May 23, 2003)

The Sri Lanka Minister of Plantation Industries, Lakshman Kiriella said Tuesday that a pension scheme for estate workers and a housing programme of 10,000 estate houses would be implemented this year to improve the living conditions of the estate workers. He also said that the pension scheme has already been formulated and should be implemented before the end of this year.


Nigeria: World Bank abandon N130b pension liabilities (May 22, 2003)

Director of Nigerian Legal Services of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) indicated yesterday that the World Bank has turned down the BPE’s proposal on how to assist in resolving the pension crises. She also said that the Nigerian Federal Government has decided to set up a new pension scheme rather than fund the pension fund. BPE will sell some non-core assets of the public enterprises to raise money for the accumulated pension deficit. Will the sales of public assets be enough to fill the pension gap without other sources of funding?


Korea-China pension deal goes into effect (May 22, 2003)

The Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare said that a Sino-Korean agreement on the exemption of pension fees for nationals residing in each other’s country will come into effect this Friday.  According to the agreement, Chinese migrant workers in South Korea and Korean residents in China will be exempt from national fund premiums. This agreement was reached in February this year. Will these workers exempt from pension payment be covered by their own country’s pension system once they are retired?


Conservatives predict £100bn pensions black hole (May 21, 2003)
The Conservative party claims that expenditure on benefits for older people will double to 10 percent by 2050, while the British government projects stable spending at 5 percent. The Conservative party accused the government of “massively understating” the true cost. It predicts that spending on state pensions will blow a £100bn hole in the budget.


United Arab Emirates: Etisalat Academy hosts Pension & Social Security Forum (May 21, 2003)

Etisalat Academy in the United Arab Emirates invited the General Pension and Social Security Authority to a forum yesterday in Al Ghusais near Dubai Airport Free Zone. Over 60 Etisalat senior officials attended the day event, from the Head Office in Abu Dhabi and from across the regions, including senior HR managers, finance managers and IT staff dealing with payroll and pension procedures.


India: Pension norms under attack (May 21, 2003)

Private players are not very happy with the Indian government’s steep norms for entering the liberalised pension market. And, for the Rs 300,000-crore plus pension market, the reforms agenda is poised to be turbulent. Even as the finance ministry issued a directive two weeks back on pension reforms, a nation-wide campaign against the skewed entry norms for private participation is building up.


Japan: Pension reforms target women (May 21, 2003)

The Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is currently debating ways to reform part of the national pension system in which full-time homemakers can receive pension payments without having paid premiums. Analysts expect the ministry will face difficulties in coordinating the revisions as a possible change in the pension system may affect women's future plans.


Canada: Most pension plans in trouble (May 21, 2003)
Even though many workers pay into company pension plans, their benefits aren't entirely guaranteed, the Canadian federal regulator warned Wednesday. As many as 75 company pension plans in Canada have been red-flagged as being in some trouble, said Nick Le Pan, head of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.


Israeli Government holds 'safety net' for older pension funds (May 21, 2003)

The Israeli Finance Ministry will set aside NIS 7 billion as a safety net to guarantee the yield of the veteran pension funds does not fall below a certain minimum. As part of the proposed economic recovery plan, the government intends to send the veteran pension funds, which because of actuary deficits stopped accepting new clients in 1995, to the capital market.


UK: Pensions probe may not please ministers (May 20, 2003)

Adair Turner, the British government's pensions supremo, is to scrutinise the impact of the state system on private pension saving, although his terms of reference specifically prevent him from recommending changes to the state pension structure. The investigation may not please ministers, who insist the present state system does not need changing. But it will be welcomed by the growing number of voices in the pensions industry who argue that private saving is unlikely to be revived without a simpler state system and less means-testing.


India: First pension fund to be set up in October (May 20, 2003)

The first of the six pension funds to be set up in India is to be launched on October 2nd, well in time to operationalise the new pension scheme for government employees joining after October. The modalities for the pension funds will be decided by the Interim Pension Regulatory Authority.


EU: Lifting tax rules 'would aid retired workers' (May 20, 2003)

The average retired worker would see his or her pension pot rise by about €120,000 (£86,000) if Europe's asset management market was liberalised, according to research released yesterday. The Investment Management Association, the industry body, said removing regulatory and tax barriers could boost the value of investments across Europe's asset management industry by about €5bn a year.


UK: 'Safety net' urged for final salary pensions (May 19, 2003)

The UK's top pension fund representative is to call on the government to create a national compensation scheme, or "safety net", for members of final salary pension plans. Terry Faulkner, chairman-elect of the National Association of Pension Funds, said the government should "think very seriously" about member protection. "With 23m people covered by final salary plans, it's a matter of great public interest."


French Civil Servants March Over Pension Reform (May 19, 2003)

French trade unions, divided over government plans to reform the state pension system, launched new strikes Monday that hit electricity output, schools and hospitals, though public transport ran normally. In Paris, some 100,000 protesters braved the rain to march against reforms that will push back the retirement age of many French workers from 60 at present, organizers said. Police estimates put the figure at 38,000.


Bank of Israel supports pension funds capital market investments (May 19, 2003)

The Bank of Israel is backing the Ministry of Finance’s position in favor of channeling the pension funds’ investments to the capital market and the private sector. The Bank of Israel Monetary Department today said that channeling institutional investors to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) could both contribute to the TASE and diversify the investors’ asset portfolio.


Iraqi Pension Agency Makes First Payments (May 19, 2003)

The Iraqi agency responsible for paying pensioners handed out emergency cash for the first time Sunday, triggering hours of chaos as retirees and their families fought with U.S. troops to force their way into the Baghdad office building. More than 5,000 retirees and their relatives showed up early Sunday to collect an initial $40 emergency payment -- two crisp $20 bills -- designed to help them until Iraqi workers can reconstruct thousands of records looted after U.S. troops entered Baghdad.


Russia: Making Ends Meet Not an Easy Task for Elderly (May 19, 2003)

These are not the best of times for Russian pensioners, especially those who have been retired for some time. Older pensioners can't help comparing their current plight with the Soviet era, when a full pension of 132 rubles paid the bills with enough left over to help supplement their grandchildren's student stipends. People over 70, whose pension is their only source of income, struggle just to survive. They eat simply and try to cut costs on everything from electricity to shoes.


UK: £200m lost in pension fraud as families fail to report deaths (May 18, 2003)

More than 100,000 people are claiming pensions for relations who have died, an investigation into pension fraud shows. The audit found that one in 100 spouses, close relations or friends regularly fail to tell pension schemes and continue to receive money. The findings suggest that the scale of fraud far exceeds government estimates and could cost taxpayers more than £200 million a year in false claims.


Expert comments on China's social security system: four problems and six suggestions (May 17, 2003) (in Chinese)

In Liao Wang magazine this week, an article talked about the interview with Tiankui, Jing, Director of Sociology Department of Chinese Academy of Social Science, regarding reform of China’s social security system. Jing points out four problems of current system: limited funding, narrow coverage, lack of basic policy analysis, and poorly coordinated administrative system. He also provides six suggestions in reforming the system. He emphasizes that China needs a well-coordinated social security system to consider different needs of urban and rural areas. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, pleas install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


Lithuanian experience of accumulating pension funds (May 17, 2003)

In the Baltic countries, especially in Lithuania lately, the population’s interest is increasing towards non-state pension system --  especially because the top financial and private banking institutions, financing private pension funds, demonstrate remarkable stability and well balanced indicators. The recent data affirms that within the last 9 months, the contributions in the Lithuanian private pension funds have increased by 2.2 times as compared to the last year.  Accordingly, the number of participants in private pension plans has grown substantially.


South Africa: Man held for R20m government pension scam (May 17, 2003)

A South African administrator from the Government Employees' Pension Fund (GEPF) has been arrested for an alleged pension fraud scam believed to involve more than R20-million. The 31-year-old man was arrested when he arrived for work at the pension scheme's Pretoria offices in Arcadia early on Friday. His arrest is the result of six months of quiet investigations initiated by National Treasury's GEPF.


Israel: Histadrut agrees to let treasury manage union pension funds (May 16, 2003)

A turnaround took shape last night in the Histadrut labor federation stance opposing the appointment of trustee managers for the veteran pension funds. Histadrut Chairman Amir Peretz said yesterday that he would agree "to transfer management of the funds to the state, on the condition that an agreement ensures the rights of the fund members."


UK: Women 'facing pension misery' (May 16, 2003)

Almost a quarter of all single female pensioners live in poverty, a study has found. The report, by charity Age Concern and equal rights organisation the Fawcett Society, found that, on average, women receive far lower pensions than men. It concluded that the pay gap which already exists between men and women during their working lives becomes a vast pension gulf in later life.


UK: Taxman admits millions were kept in the dark over pension shortfall (May 16, 2003)

The Inland Revenue (IR) admitted yesterday that it had deliberately refrained from alerting nearly 13 million workers to a shortfall in their pension payments. It dismissed earlier reports that a computer glitch had led to the failure to tell relevant taxpayers they needed to top up national insurance contributions or face reduced pensions. It said the annual deficiency notification system had been suspended in 1998 because IR staff were needed to focus on current pension and benefit claims.


Canada Pension Plan posts annual loss of $1.1B (May 15, 2003)

The Canada Pension Plan lost $1.1 billion in its latest fiscal year, representing a return of negative 1.5 per cent, the CPP Investment Board reported today while making plans to invest more aggressively in the future. The $1.1 billion decline was caused primarily from the prolonged slump in stock prices and compared with a gain in the previous year of $2.3 billion, or 5.7 per cent.


Elderly warned of benefit loophole (May 15, 2003)

Pensioners whose homes are owned by housing associations have been warned that they could see their benefits cut because of a legal loophole. The claim was made by the professional organisation Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland. It said that pensioners who stay in the family home after their children have moved out may be hit by an anomaly in the way benefits are assessed.


France's pension reforms (May 15, 2003)

The French unions say no to pension reforms. But might the government outmanoeuvre them? The article analyzes the situation of pension reforms in France and predicts that the odds must favour French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.


Millions facing £1500 pension cash demand (May 15, 2003)

Millions of workers in the U.K. were not told they would have to make top-up payments to receive the minimum state pension, it was revealed today. The blunder means millions of workers, most of them on low incomes, will have to make significant extra contributions to qualify for the minimum state pension of £77.45 a week.


China needs a basic social security system with a wider coverage, expert says (May 14, 2003)

Jingtian, Kui, Director of Sociology Department of Chinese Academy of Social Science, says recently that China needs to establish a basic social security system with a wide coverage. The new system needs to provide basic social security services and cover both urban and rural areas. He points out that the government should focus more on preventative medical services rather than curative medication to avoid waste of financial resources. (The text is in Chinese.)


China: paying pension on time is important (May 14, 2003)

Summary: An article in the most recent issue of Liao Wang Magazine, the political magazine under Xin Hua News Agency, points out that paying pensions in full and on time is the most important part of the social security programs. It also claims that the government should ensure to provide basic needs for the unemployed. (The text is in Chinese.)


Tokyo will ease pension rules to help stocks (May 14, 2003)

The Japanese government said Wednesday that it would ease rules on the transfer of shares managed by private pension funds to the government in an effort to halt the continuing decline in share prices.


Government coalition agrees to launch pension reform by 2005 (May 14, 2003)

The Czech government coalition parties agreed on Sunday to launch pension reform within the next two years. The new pension system, which is to be based on the Scandinavian model, should motivate citizens to work as long as possible. The reform will see the system transformed from a pay-as-you-go financed system to a savings-based one.


France: Pension strike shuts down Paris (May 14, 2003)

Public transport remained disrupted in Paris early today, one day after hundreds of thousands of French workers joined a massive public sector strike to protest the centre-right government's pension reform plans. Tuesday's protest paralysed much of the country in the biggest show of union muscle since 1995.


Bosses' pensions 'run into billions' (May 13, 2003)

Research compiled by the BBC and Hay Group showed that the total pension pot for all FTSE 100 executive directors could be worth as much as £2 billion. Details of executive pensions have angered unions as companies have run up huge pension fund deficits and changed employee schemes. The combined pension fund deficit for FTSE 100 companies is estimated to be £60 billion, prompting several to switch staff from final-salary schemes to less secure ones.


No simple answers for R75bn loss in value of pension funds (May 13, 2003)

South Africa’s retirement fund investors have seen about R75 billion, 12 percent of the roughly R600 billion controlled by the investment industry, in value eroded since the beginning of last year. This excluded the value erosion of an estimated R150 billion government’s pension fund, managed by the Public Investment Commission (PIC). There was no simple answer to who should shoulder the blame for value eroded to date - trustees, consultants, multimanagers, fund managers and investors themselves were all responsible.


Europe hit by strikes over pension cuts (May 13, 2003)
Tens of thousands of Austrians are to converge on Vienna from all over the country today to protest at the centre-right government's plans to slash pensions and raise the retirement age. The Vienna rallies coincide with a "Black Tuesday" of industrial action in France, also triggered by pension reforms, indicating a rising tide of popular anger in Europe over welfare, budget and pension cuts.


EU finance ministers adopt pension directive (May 13, 2003)

The Ecofin Council (EU ministers of economy and finance) adopted on May 13, a long-discussed directive for the protection of pensioners. The directive focuses on creating an internal market for occupational pensions requiring that funds hold sufficient assets to cover their commitments.


Pension problem ‘not that drastic’, says Pulse (May 12, 2003)

According to social democrat student organisation Pulse, the Malta’s pensions scheme was not as unsustainable as it is made to seem and with a few improvements to the present system, the government could easily guarantee a pension for the elderly population of the future.


Royal Mail discovers £4bn pension fund hole (May 12, 2003)
A £4bn pension hole has been uncovered at Royal Mail which will alarm staff and government while forcing the cash-strapped management to consider pumping huge amounts into its retirement scheme. The problem will be revealed as early as next week on publication of its annual accounts and takes the gloss off a significant improvement in the state-owned company's overall financial position.


Brazil's Pension Reform: A Golden Goose If It Will Fly (May 12, 2003)

If Brazil’s controversial social security reform proposal gets off the ground, the reform may bring more-than-hoped-for gains for the economy of Latin America's largest country. Aside from shrinking a chronic public sector deficit, analysts say the reform could help bring valuable funds into local markets by boosting investment in the local pension fund industry by 7-10% annually over the coming years.


Austrian Teachers To Join Strike Tuesday Against Pension Plan (May 12, 2003)

Schoolteachers planned a one-day strike for Tuesday to protest against proposed reforms to state pension benefits and the school curriculum. The action is part of a wider labor protest against the pension reforms that began a week ago when the largest strike in decades brought much of the country's transport to a halt.


Pension rise set at 5 percent (May 12, 2003)

The Slovak cabinet has approved a 5 percent increase in pension payments to take effect from July. The average old-age pensions will rise by Sk300 (€7.35) to Sk6,400 (€157) a month. The highest pension available will rise from Sk8,700 (€213) to Sk9,100 (€224) a month.


Pension shortfalls threaten to explode (May 12, 2003)

Canada's largest corporations face mounting demands on cash and higher expenses because of dramatically deepening losses last year in their employee pension plans. A Report on Business study of the 104 companies on the S&P/TSX index with defined-benefit pension plans found that these companies saw a pension funding shortfall of more than $18.7 billion in 2002.


Pension fund lobby wants investors to veto 'fat cat' deals (May 12, 2003)

Three British companies are set to face shareholder unrest next week after the National Association of Pension Funds highlighted concerns over boardroom pay to their investors. The organisation, which has been criticising companies which it feels fall short of best practice, has urged shareholders to either abstain or reject resolutions put forward by software group LogicaCMG, CLS Holdings, the property company, and market researchers Taylor Nelson Sofres.


War widows: Tax their pension? (May 11, 2003)
The Indian Ministry of Finance rejected the proposal of making the pension of Army widows tax free, which would have provided much needed respite to thousands of army widows trying to make ends meet. The proposal was primarily to provide war widows and those whose husbands died in counter-insurgency operations and in border areas.


Pension Shock (May 11, 2003)

South African pension funds lost 9% of their value in the first three months of this year. And their performance over one year has been even worse, a loss of 12%. Add inflation of around 9% to that, and the loss comes to a colossal 21%. People retiring soon and those who face retrenchment will be hardest hit since fund managers are unlikely to recoup the losses in the short term.


'Pension Funds Should Offer Housing Loans' (May 9, 2003)

A call has been made for Tanzanian pension funds to provide soft housing loans to their members.  An experienced estate developer, Mohamed Khalfan, says being state organisations, social security funds like the Parastatal Pensions Fund (PPF) and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) should help their members to acquire private houses.


Brazil Governors Urge Lula to Stick to Pension Tax, Estado Says (May 9, 2003)
Brazil's state governors are pressing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stick to his plan to tax retired civil servants, after his party said it would negotiate the proposal to get the pension bill passed in congress, the daily newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported. The plan calls for all retired civil servants -- at a federal and state level -- who still receive a salary must pay an 11 percent tax on monthly pensions.


Early super splurge puts pressure on pension (May 9, 2003)

In Australia, people are retiring early, spending their superannuation reserves quickly and then relying on the age pension. In a submission to the multi-party committee yesterday, the Financial Planning Association called on the Howard Government to introduce a new regime so people could not access their superannuation - as a lump sum - before they were eligible for the age pension.

Retiring ways for pension plans (May 9, 2003)
India - Private pension plans, wherever they exist in our country, are erratic and not uniform. There is no comprehensive plan to pay pension to the aged in both the organised and unorganised sectors. To get an idea of the magnitude of the problem, the Dave Committee, which was set up under the aegis of the ministry of social welfare and empowerment and submitted the old age social and income security report. The Committee findings are outlined in this article.


Auditor criticizes UH retirement incentives (May 9, 2003)
The University of Hawai'i should either eliminate or fix the school's 20-year-old early retirement incentive program, state Auditor Marion Higa said in a report released yesterday. As the result of inefficient program, some employees get dual retirement incentives overlapping from the state's early retirement incentive program and the cost savings goal was subverted by replacing the early retirees with more highly paid replacements.


Three tiers to pensions (May 8, 2003)

Mario C. Grech, chairman of the Middlesea Group, talks about the urgent need for progress in the long-discussed pensions reform. He believes that sustainability and adequacy are fundamental issues to pension problems in Malta and the key to solving the problems lies in generation of real economic growth. He calls for all interested parties to get round a table and recognise the problem.


Italian unions to challenge Berlusconi over pensions (May 8, 2003)

The centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, yesterday faced a serious challenge to its economic reform programme as trade unions prepared to mobilise forces against planned changes to the pension system. Leaders of Italy's three main union movements will meet next Wednesday to decide what form resistance will take.


France wrestles with pension reform (May 8, 2003)

The French Government and unions are squaring up for a summer battle over pensions. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who has formally presented his controversial plans to the cabinet, says France must introduce the changes to head off a crisis in years to come. But unions have threatened to fight the plans tooth and nail, with a campaign of strikes and mass street protests.


World Bank urges tough pension reform in Europe (May 8, 2003)
According to a World Bank report, European countries urgently need to overhaul their pension systems or their rapidly aging populations will face a sharp fall in living standards after retirement. The bank said that lack of consensus in Europe about how reform should be done, including among Europe Union accession countries, has led to far slower progress than is needed to tackle the problem.


French Prime Minister Faces Tough End-Game Over Pensions (May 7, 2003)

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin appealed to a hard-pressed electorate Wednesday to back his far-reaching bid to rescue France's old-age pension system from poverty and underfunding. The draft legislation would raise the number of working years public employees need to receive a pension to 40 from 37.5 by 2008, bringing it into line with the private sector. To reflect higher life expectancies, workers will have to work 41 years by 2012 before retiring and 42 years by 2020.

Pension reform triggers Austria's first strike in 50 years (May 06, 2003)
Austria is braced for its first general strike in more than 50 years, a protest against pension reforms sought by the ruling conservative-far-right coalition that would raise the retirement age and decrease pay-outs. The powerful National Federation of Austrian Unions (OeGB), which is close to the opposition Social Democrats, has said it hopes 1 million of its 1.4 million members -- a quarter of the country's total workforce -- will heed the strike call.

Companies UK: Boots pension fund still avoiding equities (May 06, 2003)
The Boots pension fund has ruled out mounting speculation that it plans to re-start buying equities after its landmark decision to switch its investments into bonds. John Watson, chairman of the trustees of the Boots pension scheme, said a move back into equities was "not currently on the agenda".


Pension Benefits to Be Slashed in 2004;Public Outcry Seen (May 06, 2003)
Korea - National pension benefits are likely to be reduced from next year, while premiums are expected to increase, according to an official of the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE). He said the likelihood of the income replacement rate for National Pension Fund recipients decreasing from the current 60 percent to 50 percent from next year was increasing.

Pension funds may get to invest abroad (May 5, 2003)

The Indian finance ministry has decided to allow pension funds to invest abroad and create overseas financial assets. According to finance ministry sources, pension assets could include investment in the overseas market to help the funds diversify their portfolio. They said this would also help them to reduce volatility in returns.


Aussies avoiding retirement savings (May 5, 2003)

People want to travel and be adventurous once they stop work but few have thought much about planning financially for retirement, according to a survey. The survey, commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, found just less than half of working "pre-retirees" expected to be fully retired by age 65. It also found a large proportion of pre-retirees had given little or no thought to planning financially towards their retirements.

Senior electricity workers choose to quit now while the pensions are even better (May 05, 2003)
Ten senior and veteran employees of the Israel Electric Corporation have decided in recent weeks to terminate their employment after learning that the Finance Ministry is planning to worsen the terms of their pensions.


Pension plan a Pandora's box (May 4, 2003)
The Japanese public pension program, which is supposed to support citizens in their old age, has been hard hit by a rapidly graying population and a declining birthrate. These twin phenomena make it extremely difficult to maintain the current pension system. All schools of thought on how to handle the issue within the government are missing the essential point of the proposed reform. The real issue is how to secure revenues to finance ever-ballooning social security costs.

The coverage of Chinese pension system for cities and towns expanded (May 3, 2003)
In 2002, the coverage of Chinese pension system for cities and towns expanded. By the end of last year, 111,280,000 employees and 36,080,000 retirees are covered by the pension system, an increase of 2,050,000 over 2001. The annual pension was RMB 8,849 (equivalent to US$ 1,079) per person in the last year, increasing by 13.7% over 2001. Most retirees received their pensions on time and in full amount.

Varsities Groan Under Burden of Unpaid Pensions (May 03, 2003)
This is not the best of times for the authorities of the country's first generation universities of Ibadan, Benin, Obafemi Awolowo University, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Apart from the difficulty they are facing in paying their serving staff, which is reportedly due to the inadequate recurrent grant from the federal government, Vice-Chancellors of these universities are also losing sleep over the non-payment of pension to retirees for about 17 months, many of whom have started giving up the ghost due to want of money to care for their medical needs.


Universal Pensions in Mauritius: Lessons for the Rest of Us (April 2003)

“That the Government of Mauritius provides nearly every resident over the age of 60 with a non-contributory, basic pension is one of the best-kept secrets in the world. The scheme dates from 1950 and became universal in 1958, following abolition of a means test. Remarkably, introduction of a compulsory, contributory scheme for workers in the private sector appears to have strengthened the non-contributory regime without affecting its universality. This paper examines the past and future of non-contributory, universal pensions in Mauritius, and draws lessons that might be useful for other countries, especially those in the developing world.”


Ontario to ban mandatory retirement age (April 30, 2003)
The Ontario government announced plans to ban mandatory retirement at 65, along with upgrades to the education and health-care systems and an attack on impaired driving.  Unfortunately, Ontario does not ban age discrimination so older job-seekers may have a hard time getting hired due to this pernicious prejudice.


Pensions: the basic solution (April 30, 2003)
As the problem of Britain's pensions rumbles on, ever more desperate (and unjust) solutions to the crisis are proposed. Perhaps the best and fairest answer is the simplest of all: an increase in the basic state pension. Some of the solutions have generated howls of protest among advocates for older people, and rightly so.


Dalli promises priority on pension changes (April 30, 2003)
In the island country of Malta, John Dalli said he intended to take stock of the pension situation and map out a way forward by the end of May. The Finance and Economic Services Minister said it was time to take decisions to defuse the pensions time bomb, which had lain shelved for several months.  But what caused the problem in the first place?  Poor investment strategies?


Pensioners bare teeth as 40 colleagues die without pension (April 30, 2003)
The Kumasi district branch of the Ghana Government Pensioners Association has appealed to the president to prevail upon the controller and accountant general to pay members their full pension, as directed by the Ministry of Finance. They would also want all arrears paid them in line with the directives of the finance minister last October.


Pensions warning by World Bank (April 29, 2003)
Using its usual scare tactics, World Bank official Richard Hinz warned yesterday that pension entitlements may have to be cut in half or people will have to work up to 10 years longer to achieve their financial retirement goals.   The World Bank continues to pursue its privatization policy whenever and wherever it gets the opportunity. 

Pension complaints 'mushroom' (April 29, 2003)
Complaints to a leading pensions advisory service have soared in the past year, reflecting growing concern about the health of UK pensions. Written complaints increased by 53%, and general inquiries to the helpline rose by 17%, the Occupational Pensions Advisory Service (Opas) said.

State-paid pensions short on funds, faith (April 29, 2003)
Mariko Horiuchi, a 30-year-old part-time English-language teacher living in Tokyo, wonders if she should trust what the government promises for her future: a sound retirement covered by state pension benefits. The article tries to pit younger vs. older persons.

Dmitriyev Fights Uphill Pension Battle (April 29,2003)
The slimmer the chances have become that pension reforms will be enacted this year, the more First Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev has prodded the government to accelerate them -- despite a warning last month from Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that he should refrain from speaking out against the government line.

Willetts attacks pension spending forecast (April 29, 2003)
The scuffle over predicted pension levels continues in the UK.  Here is what the Conservatives are saying:  Official projections that the UK will continue to spend only about 5 per cent of its gross domestic product on state pensions over the next 50 years are "simply incredible”, the Conservatives' pension spokesman warned. In many other European countries, public spending on pensions is projected to run at 10 to 15 per cent of GDP. But the UK figure is no longer credible, he said.

OECD calls for Belgian pensions reform (April 28, 2003)
A new OECD report has suggested Belgium contemplate a major reform of its pension system. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's 141-page report noted that Belgium’s three statutory pension schemes (public sector, private sector, self-employed), calculate retirement pensions differently.

Market Watchdog on Patrol as Pension Fund Flood Nears (April 28, 2003)
The nation's stock market watchdog is racing against time to improve the corporate behavior of publicly traded companies before a flood of federal Pension Fund money hits the markets. "The market has to achieve maximum transparency [as soon as possible]," Federal Securities Commission head Igor Kostikov told a conference co-organized by the FSC, the New York Stock Exchange and MICEX, Russia's biggest bourse.  What is the process to assure that companies have achieved transparency?

Kevin Brown: Pensions credibility gap (April 25, 2003)
UK - Andrew Smith, the work and pensions secretary, was widely criticized when he produced his long awaited pensions green paper in December for suggesting that there were no serious problems in the pensions system. Assuming that tax increases to provide a comprehensive state pension are ruled out, ministers will eventually have to decide between making pensions contributions compulsory and letting the market “solve” the problem. 

Retirements : The trade unions are trying to unite their critics (April 23, 2003)

On 24th April, the Minister on Social Affairs of France, Mr. Francois Fillon will address the citizens with the request to support the government proposal on pensions. The day before, trade unions have met to take a joint action against the proposal to overhaul the pension systems. The broad outline of the reform - the progressive harmonization of the public and private, the increase in the duration of contribution for all - was highly criticized by all of the trade-union organizations. (full text in French)

Third of young adults 'have yet to start pensions' (April 23, 2003)
UK - The Lloyds TSB study contains a poll among 18 to 34-year-olds which found widespread recognition of the need for a pension but less evidence they were taking practical steps. Sixty-per-cent of those questioned gave "lack of cash" as the main reason for not saving for their retirement, the same number who said they were worried about not having enough money when they are old.


Pension reform to include part-timers (April 22, 2003)
Japan - The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Tuesday presented a proposal that would require part-time employees who work more than 20 hours a week or earn more than 650,000 yen a year to enroll in a corporate employee pension plan in order to expand the number of subscribers to such plans.

The tinkering that ruined pensions (April 22, 2003)
Twenty years ago the UK enjoyed a big competitive advantage through its company pension schemes. They were low-cost, fully funded and responsibly run. Now we hear talk of a pensions crisis, as if the UK faced the same problems as France or Germany with their state pay-as-you-go schemes. What has changed?


Government harmonizes law on private pension plans with EU legislation (April 21, 2003)
The Czech government has amended the law on private pension schemes to bring it into line with EU norms, says government spokeswoman Anna Starkova. The newly amended law will enable Czech pension funds to invest in shares traded on regulated markets of OECD countries.

Pension fund of Russia will continue construction of houses (April 21, 2003)
Mr. Michael Zurabov, the chairman of Russia’s Pension Fund stated that construction of blocks of apartments for handicapped and retired elderly has been completed in the Southern regions of Russia. This facilitated resettlement of population groups who lost their housing during massive floods last year. Mr. Zurabov underlined that care for elderly is provided through three programs: raising pensions, financing of medical care for retired people and reduction of service charges. (full text in Russian)

Elderly may be given choice between pension, tax exemption (April 17, 2003)
Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Wednesday the government should consider adopting a system that would give high-income elderly people the choice of receiving basic public pension benefits or an exemption of the same amount for inheritance tax.

Administration, governors reach accord on pensions (April 16, 2003)
The administration of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and all 27 state governors reached agreement Wednesday on the shape of a broad pension reform bill, Welfare Minister Ricardo Berzoini said. He said the reform was designed to make the nation´s retirement system self-sustaining.

Brits Have Poor Pensions (April 14, 2003)
The vast majority of people in the UK are not saving enough to pay for the sort of lifestyle they expect in retirement, it is being claimed. A newly-published Institute of Directors report blames both the Government and individuals for the number of "under pensioned" people in the country.

Kasyanov Gets Soviet in Pension Fund Spat (April 8, 2003)

Criticism of the government's pension reform program is driving Mikhail Kasyanov “Soviet.” The prime minister, in an act political observers say hasn't been committed since the country went capitalist, sent an "official warning" to First Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev on Friday for "multiple public disagreements with the government's position on pension reform."  Who speaks for the older people? 

Deputy Minister got the warning for free interpretation of the pension reform (April 7, 2003) (in Russian)
The Prime Minister of the Russian Federation warned the First Deputy Minister of Economic Development Mikhail Dmitriev regarding his incomplete service conformity, caused by misinterpreting the government’s position on pension reform during his public appearances.  In speeches Mr. Dmitriev accused the government of possible reform failure, and criticized the participation of pension funds in the reform.

Putin: pensions to be increased by 6%-7%(April 4,2003)
Speaking on the issue of pensions,  Putin said that it is possible that pensions will be raised once again in addition to the index-linked increase planned for August. He said that from August 1 pensions are planned to be increased by 6%-7%, which, coupled with the April 1 index-linked rise, will result in an average monthly increase of 265 rubles this year.

Staff in social work colleges go on strike (April 4, 2003)
Teaching and non-teaching staff from 55 social work colleges across the Pune State, India, have launched an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Social Welfare Directorate here to press for pension and gratuity cover.

French PM vows more tax cuts, pension reform (April 3, 2003)
The French government says it is going to cut taxes further and proceed with the reform of the state-run pension system, as the system is facing a funding crisis. Despite the nationwide strike over the reform, the government plans to pass it by summer. Stay tuned.

Planes Grounded as French Workers Strike (April 3, 2003)
Air traffic controllers, postal workers and other public employees brought much of France to a halt with a one-day strike over government plans to overhaul the pension system.  The people speak!

Consumer groups in call for pensions safety net (April 3, 2003)
Consumer groups are to urge ministers to set up a safety net. Mick McAteer, senior policy adviser at the Consumers' Association, said: "The point of a safety net is to protect consumers against events which could wipe out pension savings overnight."

French Transport Crippled by Strike Over Pensions (April 3, 2003)
The transport strikes come as the conservative government prepares to unveil plans on April 11 to overhaul France's pay-as-you-go pension system, creaking under the weight of an aging population.

Pensions funds to build power stations for leasing to IEC (April 3, 2003)
Sources inform “Globes” that a revolutionary plan is emerging, under which pension funds would invest several billion dollars in the coming years to build power stations for Israel Electric Corporation (IEC).

Air Canada pensions under-funded (April 02, 2003)
Air Canada revealed yesterday as it filed for protection from its creditors that its pension plans are under funded by about $1.3 billion, forcing the insolvent airline to discuss potential solutions to the shortfall with federal regulators.

Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Asia and the Pacific, 2002 (March 2003)

This report, which is part of a four-volume series, presents cross-national comparisons of social security systems in 50 countries in Asia and the Pacific. It summarizes the five main social insurance programs in those countries: old-age, disability, and survivors; sickness and maternity; work injury; unemployment; and family allowances. The other volumes in the series focus on the social security systems of countries in Europe (released in September 2002), Africa (due September 2003), and the Americas (due March 2004). Together, the reports provide important information for researchers and policymakers who are reviewing different ways of approaching social security challenges and adapting the systems to the evolving needs of individuals, households, and families. These efforts are particularly important as each nation faces major demographic changes, especially the aging of the population, as well as economic and fiscal issues.

Nearly 75% of final salary schemes shut to new entrants (March 24, 2003)
In Great Britain, almost three-quarters of final salary schemes are now closed to new entrants, or even to future contributions from existing employees, says the Association of Consulting Actuaries.

Pension funds: The next boom business (March 23, 2003)
The Indian pension fund market is set for some big changes in the coming months with the government planning a full-fledged regulator for the industry. Analysts say that the pension market can make a significant contribution to the development of Indian capital markets.

Honda move to raise age of retirement may set trend (March 22, 2003)
To preserve the existing pension scheme, Honda tries to increase the retirement age for its workers from 60 to 62 years. Honda's pension situation also requires closing the scheme to new employees and increasing staff and company contributions.

Reform has failed. The World Bank criticizes the new pension reform (March 20, 2003) (in Russian)
World Bank economists say that the pension reform in Russia contains some serious miscalculations, and thus it goes ‘the wrong way’. But Russian experts argue that the reform cannot be stopped, as it can cause large-scale financial crisis.

BAE pension strike threat 'easing' (March 17, 2003)
The Transport and General Workers Union at the center of a pensions dispute with BAE systems claims it is winning concessions from Britain's biggest arms maker

Canberra presses pension funds on fees (March 17, 2003)
How much does the pension fund manager earn? Probably, too much in Australia: the Australian federal government is urging greater competition among pension fund m
anagers amid public concern that fees are too high while returns are too low.

Insurers call for simpler state pension scheme (March 17, 2003)
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have called on the Government to simplify and strengthen the state pensions system to help give future pensioners an unambiguous incentive to save.

Pension Sector: Reforms Not In Sight (March 17, 2003)
There were high expectations on social securities from Finance Minister of India Jaswant Singh’s maiden Budget (2003-04). But instead of announcing any detailed social security measures which would have kickstarted the pension sector reforms, Mr Singh preferred to make a few announcements, including the 9% special pension scheme.

Treasury to let pension funds loose on capital markets (March 17, 2003)
As part of the structural reforms that are to be presented tomorrow, the Finance Ministry of Israel will no longer guarantee yields on the pension funds, with the eventual aim of ending the issue of special government bonds for the funds. Consequently, poor performing funds will have to lower their payments to their insured members.

EU backs rules to free up cross-border pensions (March 12, 2003)
The European Parliament backed plans to allow the multi-trillion euro pension fund industry to operate across borders, a move aimed at boosting stock market capitalisation in the 15-nation EU. Experts expect the value of occupational retirement schemes in the EU to rise to above 7,000 billion euros in 2010 from 2,000 billion euros currently.

No-pension companies 'breaking law' (March 12, 2003)
Research claims at least 25,000 companies in Great Britain are breaking the law by not providing staff with a pension scheme.

China: Reform of Social Security System (March 11, 2003) (in Chinese)

Qingtai, Chen, Vice Director of Development Research Center of  the State Council of P.R.China, points out that the Chinese government needs to establish new public policies for social welfare reform as soon as possible.  He believes that the new system should aim to achieve a wider coverage with relatively lower benefits to recipients.  He thinks that the system should be financially sustainable and politically acceptable to all interest groups.  He also points out that the current system is essentially a pay-as-you-go system characterized by narrow coverage, early retirement, high replacement ratio, and high tax rate. (The text is in Chinese. To read the Chinese article, pleas install the Internet Explorer Chinese language pack or NJ star communicator.)


Latin America: Report of the Regional Meeting of Experts: Gender Impact and Pension Reform in Latin America (March 10-11, 2003)
Latin American countries gathered to discuss pension reform in order to reach gender equality. The labor market, in which women are hardly integrated, causes poverty among older women. Countries decided to sustain women during their working life to fight the effects of discrimination upon retirement. Social protection appears as the main solution: introducing a minimum pension or employment subsidies. Countries also agreed to implement an anti-discriminatory legal framework, to recognize legally unpaid housework, and to increase retirement age to that of men. This meeting was a reminder that pension systems must change along with demographic transitions, in this case the long life expectancy of women.

Old Age Pensions In Sweden
Sweden introduced a public pension scheme in 1914. In June 1998, a new system based on full life-time earnings has been adopted. Between these two dates, this file will show you the Swedish pension system’s evolution.

Interview with the ATON Management Vice-president Vadim Soskov (March 7, 2003) (in Russian)
In his interview with “Gazeta” the vice-president of ATON Asset Management, Vadim Soskov, shares his vision of challenges that pension reform in Russia can face, and of its possible consequences for citizens, government, and financial markets.

Interview with the Deputy Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation Bella Zlatkis (March 6, 2003) (in Russian)
On Ms. Zlatkis’ opinion, in the next 3-4 years, 80% of the funded part of pensions will be invested in private pension funds and managing companies.

UK pensions '£100bn in the red' (March 4, 2003)
Investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein estimates that the UK's top companies are collectively facing a pension blackhole of up to £100 billion. ($150 billion). “The group blames the problem on overly optimistic assumptions about the returns firms will get on equities, adding that these projected returns helped mask the short-falls.”

Pension Reform Tests Brazilian President (March 3, 2003)
The Brazilian President Lula da Silva is facing hard task of reforming the retirement system, which doles out full-pay pensions after 35 years of service for many civil servants, contributed last year to a $20 billion deficit in the social security system and represents 42 percent of all government payroll costs, according to government statistics.

Pension funds are merging (March 3, 2003) (in Russian)
Two Russian top-10 pension funds, ‘Rostelecom-Garantiya’ and ‘Telecom-Souz’, will merge, creating one of the largest pension fund on the Russian market, capable to compete with absolute market leaders. The two funds have jointly about 2 billions rubles of pension reserves (1USD = approximately 32 rubles)

Long-term care needed for many pensions (March 1, 2003)
In this Financial Times article, you will find financial explanations about the UK and the US current pensions systems shortfalls. For example, in the US, “excessively optimistic return assumptions have hidden the scale of the funding problem and have artificially boosted profits.” Did those same assumptions feather the rests of firm executives? 

Interview with Mrs. Faith Innerarity, Minister for Social Security in Jamaica (February, 2003)
Mrs. Faith Innerarity, Minister for Social Security in Jamaica, answers GAA’s questions about social protection of workers who become part of the globalized labor market.  Mrs. Innerarity has served as the Chair of the UN Commission for Social Development and is well known for her forward-looking social views and policies.

Pension chaos fears if giros are scrapped (February 28, 2003)
In Ireland, government plans to scrap giros and pension books could cause chaos for Ulster's pensioners and low-income families. Claimants will have to open a bank or Post Office account. Many of them do not have experience of the banking system and will probably miss out on benefits.

La retraite pratique (February 27, 2003) (in French)
" One cannot be, at 55 years old, at the same time an old and used employee, and a young active and dynamic pensioner," the French Prime Minister recently contended. The time of early retirements is past. Or almost! Employees have been used leaving prematurely and companies have been at the same time obsessed by the renovation of their troops. Some begin to adapt themselves to the new look: a revolution in French human resources.

Big scandal in the ‘pension family’ (February 21, 2003) (in Russian)
A scandal is arising around the recent decision of the Russian Government about the appointment of Vneshekonombank to be the state managing company for personal pension accounts for citizens who did not choose the private fund. The reason is a letter from the Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Gref, to the Prime Minister, stating that the decision was wrong and that it violated existing procedures.

  Seniors send “a gift” to the Russian President (February 20, 2003) (in Russian)
Russian pensioners protested against the scanty increase in pensions by sending the additional money they received, 31 rubles, directly to the President. Post office officials report that from one city, Voronezh, about 50 thousands rubles were sent. Pensioners claim that the additional money is only worth one liter of milk, half of a kilogram of sugar, and bread, and they want the president to feel ashamed.

  La Bourse ou la retraite ? (February 17, 2003) (in French)
The project to create a pension fund in the French system seems abandoned by the Raffarin government. Among the arguments advanced for this retreat is the stock market crisis, after the big crisis of 1930s and 1970. If you take the American example, nothing can be more risky right now. According to Patric Artus, director of the economic studies of CDC Ixis, there is about 900 billion dollars in the American pension funds in the stock market.


The Ministry of Finance will become a pension supervisor (February 14, 2003) (in Russian)
The Institutional intrigue continues in Russia over control of pension fund investment. The Ministry of Finance is currently seen as the most probable candidate to control this perspective market of mandatory pension insurance scheduled to appear in Russia this year. It is expected that the pension market volume by the year 2008 will have $8 billion of new cash inflows a year.

Speech of the First Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development of Russian Federation G. Karelovoy ( February 12, 2003)
Here are excerpts from the Statement from the Russian Federation on Feb. 12, 2003, at the Commission for Social Development.


Statement of S.E.M Mohammed Loulichki (February 12, 2003)
In the name of the group of 77 and China in front of the 2003 Commission of the Social Development, here is the statement from the Assistant Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco.


For Ailing Japan, Longevity Takes Bite Out of Economy (February 11, 2003)
Here is a complete article about elderly people’s daily life in Japan. In a country with the world's longest average lifespan, older people are worried about outlasting their savings. Japan's population will start declining in three years. By around 2007, the proportion of the population over 65 will have jumped to 20% from 10% in just 21 years.  

China received over RMB 211 billion of pension fees in 2002 (February 8, 2003)
In 2002, Chinese pension fund received over RMB 211 billion (equivalent to US$ 25.7 billion) for pension fees, an increase of over RMB 25 billion (equivalent to US$ 3.04 billion) over 2001. By the end of 2002, over 110,000,000 people participate in the pension system, an increase of 2,200,000 people over 2001.

EU Commission Wants Rules On Pension Contributions Eased (February 5, 2003)
The E.U. Commission has warned Denmark, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal to change their pension fund taxes with the objective to create cross border European pension plans. This action aims to stop the discrimination toward people working in different countries in Europe who now are obliged to take out new pension insurance when they take up a job in another member state. But the major benefit would be for multinational corporations who would no longer need to set up separate pension systems in different European countries.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin veut faire cotiser les fonctionnaires plus longtemps (February 4, 2003)
The French Prime Minister presented to the Economic and Social Council, the main lines of the pension future reform, which he intends to finish before the end of the parliamentary session. Mr Raffarin clearly evoked the perspective of a progressive adaptation of the durations of subscription of the public on the private, by wishing that " the situation of the persons placed in comparable situations have to be harmonized "..

French Protest Planned Changes to Pension System (February 3, 2003)
In France, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in a nationwide protest day against the government's plans to change the public pension system. People were urging the government to keep the retirement age at 60 and not to lower the size of pension payments. Without a change to the system, France will see the number of people living in retirement overtake those working around 2020.

Durée et taux de cotisation, âge de départ, niveau des pensions  : de nombreuses inégalité (February 3, 2003)
This French article explains the many differences between the private and the public pension systems. For example, public sector employees need only work for 37.5 years before earning a full pension, compared with 40 years in the private sector.

"37 ans et demi pour tous, et pas un jour de plus", scandent les manifestants parisiens (February 3, 2003)
On Saturday, February 2nd, about 400,000 French people gathered in the streets of Paris to show their government that they care about their future pensions. They were singing “75, 60,37.5”: 75 percent is the percent of the pension based on the last salary received, 60 years for the legal age of retirement and 37.5 for the number of necessary contributing years to the system. They do not support the proposed changes.

Raising state pension age: are we ready?
This review from the Pension Policy Institute treats the issues around the idea of raising the age at which the older population in the UK can receive a state pension. The author suggests that it will take many years to raise the State Pension Age, so that people have time to adjust their work and savings plans. A practical solution would be for the change to take place between 2020 and 2030. Then only people currently aged 42 or less would have to wait to 70 for their state pension.

Politics and ideas in policymaking: reforming pension systems in comparative perspective: the case of Uruguay and Chile
In spite of similarities between Chile and Uruguay's economic and political situation, they adopted opposed pension policy reforms. This paper describes briefly the main points of both reforms. “Uruguayan reforms were dramatic but the reform was closer to the ILO recommendations than to a neo-liberal formula propounded by the regime. Unlike Chile’s ,the Uruguayan
dictatorship's economic policy lacked a clear and defined economic orientation during the whole period. “

Russian pensioners will get 30-rubles increase (February 1, 2003) (in Russian)
Starting February 1st, pensions in Russia increase by 6%. The base part of the pension will grow by approximately 30 rubles to 553.72 rubles. After the increase, the average pension in Russia will be about 1500 rubles (1 USD = approximately 32 rubles)

Pensioners are buried alive (January 24, 2003) (in Russian)
A pensioner from Nizhnevartovsk, Russia, had to prove that she is alive, after she was included by mistake into the list of dead, and stopped receiving her pension. The Pension Fund gave its apologies, and reimbursed her pension for one and a half months period, while the women was absent from the ‘living’ lists.

State has coped with pension money by itself (January 24, 2003) (in Russian)
The Russian government has designated Vnesheconom Bank to manage pension funds of citizens who have not chosen any private pension fund. It is expected that the vast majority of Russians will let the bank take care of their pensions rather than risk other “private” options. Some experts worry that it can be dangerous because funds can be used to pay the state’s external debts.

Dall'Ecofin ok con riserva (January 21, 2003) (in Italian)
The document by the council of European financial ministers which approved the 2002-2006 Italian stability program expressed some concerns on the number of "una tantum" measures that will be adopted in 2003 in order to meet the target imposed by the EU to reduce public deficit. The report argues that Italy will have to fasten the approval of structural reforms, in particular in the public pension system, which still presents a massive deficit..

Chart of the labor privileges (January 21, 2003) (in Russian)
PricewaterhouseCoopers' research shows that thirty percent of foreign companies in Russia plan to launch private pension plans for their employees starting this year. In 2002 only six percent of the companies used this instrument. Eighty percent of the companies offer privileges such as health insurance or mobile phones.

The Free Rider Principle: How Privilege Is Subsidized (January 15, 2003)
Transnational corporations go to great lengths to avoid paying taxes, hording billions of dollars that could be spent on social services and infrastructure development. This article reveals the “perverse” ways in which ordinary citizens in both rich and poor countries subsidize the world’s corporate elite.

Study Looks at Squatters and Land Titles in Peru  (January 9, 2003)
In Peru, the largest property title reform project in the world allows squatters to obtain legal title to the space they inhabit. A Princeton University study shows that communities that have undergone title reform have higher employment and a lower rate of child labor than communities without title reform.

The Ten Worst Corporations of 2002 (January 3, 2003)
For a year of notorious corporate crime, the Multinational Monitor has compiled a list of ten corporations with the most heinous records.

Driving the GATS Juggernaut (January 2003)
The WTO General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) is a product of twenty years of intense lobbying by the US financial services industry, this Red Pepper article argues. Services corporations extensive influence over GATS policy has no place in a democratic policy-making process.

Public Money in the Pipeline (January/March 2003)
Under the energy plan devised by Vice President and former oil executive Dick Cheney, the US government increasingly finances large oil companies’ most risky and volatile projects. In the name of “diversifying oil consumption,” the US throws billions of dollars into companies with disastrous environmental and human rights records.