Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bolivia: New Pension Law Lowers Retirement Age

By Emily Achtenberg
Jan 11 2011

Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, signs
 the new retirement law in La Paz, Bolivia
On December 10, surrounded by union leaders and foreign dignitaries, President Evo Morales promulgated Bolivia’s new pension law at the headquarters of the Bolivian Workers Central (COB), the country’s militant national trade union federation. The unprecedented and highly symbolic event culminated a four-year negotiating process, during which the COB agreed to suspend its mobilization for higher wages in exchange for comprehensive pension reform.

The new law nationalizes Bolivia’s private pension funds, guarantees universal retirement benefits for participants, and makes it easier for workers to access them. Both the COB and the government have called it “revolutionary” and “historic.” “We are fulfilling a promise to the Bolivian people,” said Morales at the signing ceremony. “We are creating a pension system that includes everyone.”

To be sure, Bolivia’s new pension plan defies current neoliberal orthodoxy in important respects—for example, by lowering the pension retirement age when at least 47 countries (including France, Japan, and even Cuba), have moved to increase it. “Unlike other governments,” says Morales, “Bolivians are developing our own laws without international ‘experts,’ for the benefit of the Bolivian people.”

Still, some social sectors, together with Bolivia’s respected non-profit Center for Labor and Agrarian Development Studies (CEDLA), question just how much the new system departs from the existing market-based pension model, and whether its ambitious promises are achievable and sustainable. The government and the COB are betting on an optimistic scenario.

Read more HERE.

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