July 29, 2014
CFK unveils new pensions moratorium
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday announced she would send to Congress a bill to implement a moratorium on pensions in order to achieve “universal coverage of the (federal) pensions system” among the country’s population.
The previous moratorium had set 1993 as the last year in which pension contributions were taken into account, while the new one would push that date forward by a decade to 2003.
Argentina has more than 90 percent of its retirees covered by pension schemes — the second highest rate in Latin America after Bolivia. In order to keep these high rates, periodic moratoriums are necessary to cover those who enter retirement age.
According to the head of state, economic policies from previous administrations “had left five out of 10 people” without the opportunity to join a pension scheme.
“Most people had in fact made retirement contributions — there’s an average 12.7 years of retirement deductions,” the president added during a rally at Government House transmitted via national broadcast. “Would it be fair for them to lose these 12 years of retirement contributions?”
“Between 1993 and 2003, we had the decade with the highest unemployment rates,” the president said, adding that the measure will benefit some 474,000 people not included in the pensions scheme.
“The first moratorium was launched by (former president Néstor) Kirchner in 2005,” said Fernández de Kirchner, referring to her late husband.
It was actually in December 2004 when the Kirchner administration passed the Early Retirement Law 25,994 that allowed potential beneficiaries with incomplete contribution records to “buy” the missing contributions regardless of the period considered.
The government’s plan is for the new bill to replace law 24,476, passed in 1995, the first that that allowed independent workers to buy into missing contributions.
Monthly installments will not be fixed, Fernández de Kirchner said — they will be indexed “according to the rate of pension hikes.”
The president was joined by Vice-President Amado Boudou Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich, Health Minister Juan Manzur, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, Labour Minister Carlos Tomada and the head of the ANSeS social security agency Diego Bossio.
The president also used the national broadcast to announce the addition of new vaccines to the national programme.
“When our administration started we had six vaccines, now we have 16” on the schedule, she said. “Today we have added three new vaccines to the calendar: vaccines against rotavirus, chickenpox and meningococcus”.
The first two will be implemented as of January 1, 2015 while the vaccine against meningococcus will be added in June next year. Fernández de Kirchner explained the meningococcus vaccine was “very expensive” but the disease caused by the bacteria, meningitis, “causes deaths and very serious long-term effects on those who survive it.”
In addition, outbreaks of meningitis caused by meningococcus constitute a major public health problem and as it is contagious and fast-acting.
Rotavirus is a primary cause of diarrhea in infants and the new vaccine will “combat the 300,000 cases of diarrhea that we have per year, mostly in the northeast and northwest of the country” the president said.
As a whole, the three new vaccines will “prevent 25,000 hospitalizations and 75 deaths per year.” The cost of the vaccines will be of US$82 million, but “we see it as an investment,” the president insisted.