OPINION

Gambling with social security

Social security reform, which has prompted much discussion recently, is a complex issue. The first and most difficult aspect of it regards people’s longer life expectancy (and therefore the years they will draw pensions) as well as the low birth rate, which is resulting in less money being paid into the funds. Another aspect has to do with the best possible use of the funds’ assets. Unfortunately, these assets have often been plundered by various governments – not for illegal purposes, but in order to use workers’ contributions for other social goals. We do not have a clear picture of what those assets are. We know the reserves amount to 23 billion euros, but there is still no register of the funds’ property assets. This is a problem that will not be solved, irrespective of the funds’ property assets. The low birth rate and longer life expectancy will continue to create deficits. If additional measures are not taken, the funds’ assets will simply be whittled away. Workers’ contributions must be guaranteed. Social security assets must be administered cautiously and high risk investments avoided. Even if these promise high returns, they are not safe. Unfortunately, the only certainty about our social security funds is that more and more people are retiring and fewer and fewer people are paying contributions. Until a way is found to reverse this trend, the funds will not be able to invest their small change in mutual funds and high risk shares.