By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s President Michel Temer submitted a pension bill to Congress on Tuesday that will raise the minimum retirement age in the country from today’s 58 to 65 years and would require a person to work for 49 years to get full social security benefits.
“Ensuring the sustainability of social security is the premise of reform,” said Marcelo Caetano, Social Security Secretary at the Ministry of Finance during a press conference to announce the reform bill. For officials if a drastic reform is not conducted in the country’s social security system there will be no money to pay retirees in the future. Temer’s government has said that the social security reform is crucial to get Brazil’s economy in a sustainable growth path. Government officials say that this reform will save the country R$700 billion in social security costs in the first ten years of implementation.
Under the proposed bill, workers will have to contribute at least 25 years to the social security system to be able to retire. Today workers must contribute at least 15 years to obtain benefits. Men older than 50 and women older than 45 will be included in a transitional system.
As expected, there was heavy criticism from workers’ unions, that claim that the poorer classes of the population will be the ones most hurt by these reforms. Unions also complained about the increased minimum age of retirement. “It is not possible to put the intended minimum age, knowing that in the North and Northeast we still have municipalities in some states that the longevity reaches 67, 68 years according to IBGE. These people will not be able to retire,” General Workers’ Union (UGT) President Ricado Patah told journalists after a conference with Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles in São Paulo on Tuesday.
Although officials say that no specific country’s social security system was used as a reference for this reform ‘international standards’ were followed, a fact that also raised criticism. “Unfortunately we can not make those comparisons,” said Jane Berwanger, president of the Brazilian Institute for Social Security Law (IBDP), adding,”Brazil is not a developed economy. The labor conditions here are different.”