Business & Economy

Salvadorans urge president to deliver on pension reform

San Salvador, Feb 4 (EFE).- Salvadorans took to the streets of this capital Friday to demand that President Nayib Bukele make good on his promise to overhaul the country’s privatized pension system.

People from all walks of life, including veterans of El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war, set out from San Salvador’s Savior of the World plaza for the presidential palace.

Police erected a barricade about 1 km (0.6 mi) from the palace, but allowed a six-person delegation to deliver a document to the government headquarters.

In a Sept. 15 speech on the occasion of the bicentennial of Central America’s independence, Bukele vowed to send to congress within a month a detailed proposal for reforming pensions.

The day of his self-imposed deadline, the president tweeted that he would delay “a few more weeks” before submitting draft legislation, which has yet to materialize.

“We’re tired of waiting for the government’s proposal,” teachers union official Francisco Zelada told Efe at Friday’s protest.

He said that the September 2017 increase in the rate of withholding from salaries to fund pensions from 13 percent to 15 percent “opened another door for the state to get its hands on workers’ savings.”

Around half of the teachers who are of retirement age – 55 for women, 60 for men – cannot afford to stop working when their pensions are only about $200 a month, Zelada said.

Stanley Quinteros, leader of a union representing judiciary employees, complained that despite Bukele’s campaign promises, more than two years into his administration, “we have not seen any proposal that benefits the working class.”

“We continue being exploited by the pension fund administrators. Workers go on dying with miserable pensions and we see no seriousness on the part of the state,” he said.

The minimum old-age pension was increased 46.5 percent last year to $304.10 a month, according to the government.

Salvadorans have long clamored for higher pensions and many advocate reversing the privatization of the system. EFE sa-rs-vch/dr

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