Government’s Pension Reform Proposal Criticized for Lack of Specifics

SEOUL — The Yoon Suk Yeol administration's latest proposal for pension reform has come under criticism for lacking detailed figures. The proposal was unveiled on Friday and is one of three major reforms that the government is currently pursuing, alongside labor and education reforms.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the starting age for pension payouts, and the amount to be paid out. The government's proposal only indicates a "gradual" increase in the national pension premium rate, casting doubt on the likelihood of legislative changes before the general election.

The former administration under President Moon Jae-in had also refrained from taking urgent steps to reform the national pension system. In 2018, Moon scrapped a plan by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to raise the premium rate. This time, the government's proposal seems even less substantial than previous ones, putting the onus on the National Assembly to fill in the gaps.

The national pension fund is currently in a precarious state, with experts forecasting its depletion by 2055. Failure to act now could result in people born in 1990 not receiving pensions by the time they turn 65. To address this, experts had suggested raising the premium rate to 15% and delaying the age for pension payout to 68 among other measures. The government adopted only the fund return goal while rejecting the other two recommendations.

The government stated that it will continue to talk with the National Assembly and gather more public opinions. However, given that the national pension system is in a critical state, mere discussions are not sufficient. The editorial from the Korea Herald underscores the urgency to settle on target figures and move towards legislative reforms.

The National Assembly had launched a special committee on pension reform last October with a term extending to the end of May next year, citing the need to gather more opinions. However, political considerations seem to be delaying the much-needed reform, likely pushing it past the upcoming general elections.

The editorial concluded that the government and the National Assembly need to expedite discussions and legislate the pension reform. Delaying it further will only make it more difficult for future administrations to enact these crucial changes.

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