Pension reform unnecessary, says one half of gov’t

AUSTRIA - The government coalition is split over a decision by the pension commission stating no reform of the retirement system is currently necessary.

The commission of pension experts, set up by the government, said in its latest meeting no reform suggestions will be made based on mortality, wage and productivity data up to October 2006.

"Pensions are safe," Erwin Buchinger, minister for social affairs and member of the SPÖ which shares government with the ÖVP, told a news conference.

He also hinted his party would not consent to a rise in statutory retirement age which is currently 65 for men and 60 for women in most jobs.

"Some groups want to force a debate on an alleged deterioration of the pension situation," he added, referring to critics of the report.

Among those critics is social affairs spokesman of the ÖVP, Werner Amon, who noted latest statistics on life expectancy and economic development were not included within the report.

"There will be a new report by February 2008 at the latest which will include the most recent data," Amon stated in a press release.

When that report is finished, the ÖVP wants to bring the topic of pensions back to the negotiation table, he said.

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