The deceptive start of the so-called Social Security dialogue
by the Movimiento Democrático Popular
The installation of the Plenary Table of the misnamed “Dialogue for the Social Security Fund,” which took place on Monday, February 8, has exposed the shameless maneuvers of the government to impose the will of the business groups, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and risk rating companies, aimed at deepening the privatization of pension funds. To do this they need to merge the system of individual accounts, the retirement subprogram called exclusively defined benefit (solidarity), and the mixed fund of individual contributions.
They also require a modification of the organic law that allows a single system of individual accounts, as well as the installation of a “managerial” board of directors that can decide the delivery of said funds to private companies dedicated to the administration of retirement funds. This would turn out to be an extraordinary business for employers and a catastrophe for retirees, who would receive pensions well below 50% of the average of their last best 10 years of salary.
In this way, the economically dominant sectors would acquire full control over the
Social Security Fund. If they are prevented from applying such measures, they will follow the path of the so-called parametric measures: increase in the retirement age, the number of required payments and amount of the quota, in addition to the reduction of the percentage of the salary at the time of retirement.
To achieve these purposes they have had to limit as much as possible the participation of workers, public servants, doctors, nurses, health technicians and teachers’ unions, as well as retirees and patients of the CSS, who combined add up only 33.4% of the members of the negotiating table. People from the executive branch of government, representatives of the political parties, legislators and business groups account for 66.6% of the seats. That is the immense gap that they open between citizens and the political and business sectors, which control the government for their exclusive benefit, justifying this by taking radically neoliberal positions.
Even so, and fearful that their disgraceful intentions will not find the necessary support around the table, they have hand-picked as the facilitator of the dialogue Joaquín Villar García, a person identified with alleged very serious ethical and legal faults, such as the evasion of quotas of Social Security and infringement of legally required maternity benefits. As if that were not enough, Mr. Villar is a member of the National Council of Private Enterprise (CoNEP) and rector of a private university. In other words he’s a representative of the privatizing business associations. This unprecedented impudence can only be explained by the difficulty in finding someone to lend himself or herself to carry out the perverse intentions that will materialize in the slick dialogue that private companies, the government and political parties are orchestrating. They’re the cream of the crop among the neoliberal forces that control the country.
On the other hand, the workers have proposed that participation in the dialogue should be limited to representatives from the government, private companies, labor unions, educators, health workers, and retirees, since they are the main protagonists in the Social Security Fund. Also, that the facilitator be chosen by all the participants of the table. And that the discussion focus on the return to the solidarity system. These proposals have been Olympically ignored.
This dire panorama, which shows us the way to Hell for wage earners in need of a dignified and fair retirement, makes it clear that there is nothing to do at that table. That’s why we call on people not to participate in this farce and thus avoid legitimizing the intentions to do business with the suffering of the Panamanian people.
Since the most elementary democratic guarantees for participation do not exist, at least on an equal footing, and without considering the possibility of discussing the return to the solidarity pension system, the representatives of the true owners of the pensions should have nothing to do with that table. Especially since we will soon make known to all of society our counter-proposal to return to the solidarity regime, and provide scientific foundations to support this.
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