Colombian Senators Criticize Senate's Sole Focus on Pension Reform Debate

Colombian Senate approves Petro's pension reform, but concerns raised over legislative priorities. The reform aims to expand social protection, but other pressing issues need attention.

Geeta Pillai
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Colombian Senators Criticize Senate's Sole Focus on Pension Reform Debate

Colombian Senators Criticize Senate's Sole Focus on Pension Reform Debate

Colombian senators have expressed criticism over the Senate plenary session's exclusive focus on the pension reform debate, sidelining other important legislative matters. The Senate recently approved President Gustavo Petro's pension reform bill in a second debate, with 49 votes in favor and 4 against.

The approved reform aims to increase social protection coverage and ensure a dignified old age for the elderly in Colombia. It maintains the current retirement age of 57 for women and 62 for men while expanding the protection system to benefit all Colombians, even those who have not contributed the full number of required salaries. The bill also proposes a subsidy for people in extreme poverty and a lifelong income for citizens who have contributed between 300 and 1,000 weeks.

Under the new system, the government will become the manager of around 70% of all worker contributions, with private pension funds receiving the remaining 30%. The reform includes a central bank-managed savings fund to pay for future pension compensation, which the government estimates will accumulate up to $320 billion by 2052. Additionally, a management fee of up to 0.7% on assets held by private pension funds will replace the current upfront levy workers pay when contributing to social security.

Despite the Senate's approval, the pension reform bill must still be approved in two more votes in the House of Representatives, where the government holds a majority, before becoming law. The bill's passage in the Senate marks a significant victory for leftist President Gustavo Petro and his reform agenda.

Why this matters: The pension reform debate has overshadowed other pressing legislative issues in Colombia, raising concerns among senators about the Senate's priorities. The reform's approval highlights the ongoing efforts to reshape Colombia's social security landscape and the challenges faced by Petro's administration in advancing its agenda.

Senator Iván Cepeda, a supporter of Petro's government, emphasized the importance of the pension reform but also called for attention to other critical matters, stating, "While the pension reform is vital, we must not neglect our responsibility to address issues that directly impact the lives of Colombians, such as healthcare, education, and economic recovery." As the pension reform bill moves to the House of Representatives for further debates, the Senate faces mounting pressure to strike a balance between advancing the government's agenda and addressing the diverse needs of the nation.

Key Takeaways

  • Colombian Senate approves Petro's pension reform bill with 49 votes in favor.
  • Reform aims to expand social protection coverage and ensure dignified old age.
  • Government to manage 70% of worker contributions, private funds 30%.
  • Bill must pass two more House votes before becoming law, a victory for Petro.
  • Senators criticize the Senate's exclusive focus on pension reform, neglecting other issues.