Thomas Dermine (PS): ‘There will be no pension reform on the backs of pensioners’

Thomas Dermine (PS): ‘There will be no pension reform on the backs of pensioners’

Thomas Dermine (PS), Secretary of State for Recovery and Strategic Investments, was the guest of La Première this Friday. Belgium is waiting for money from the European Union for the recovery plan. Problem: our country does not meet all the requirements to obtain the first part of the funds, an amount of 900 million euros.

We needed to achieve a whole series of reforms. There were 20 that were requested and there are 18 that are successful. When I was in school, 18/20 was good odds“, defends Thomas Dermine. According to him, despite everything, “regardless of the funding tranches, the projects are in progress.

He recognizes that he remains “two more complicated reforms: one which is essentially technical, it is a legislative text on money laundering laws which is in the process of passing through parliament. And there is a point which is complicated, on pensions, but the Europe is not asking us to carry out a hard-line pension reform where pensioners would have to be penalized, it is asking us for a balanced reform. […] There is a discussion that is underway within the government and that will come to fruition in the coming weeks.“.

In the liberal camp, we would like to take the opportunity to renegotiate the reform concluded in July. This is particularly the case of David Clarinval, Minister for the Middle Classes and the Independents in the federal government, who spoke on the airwaves of RTBF on January 11th.

Adjust reform

David Clarinval does not have the right reading of what Europe is asking of us“, sweeps Thomas Dermine. Europe is asking us to carry out a pension reform on four dimensions which have the same value: raising the minimum pensions, it’s done; ensure convergence of regimes, we have measures that go in that direction; ensuring that we have a role of solidarity, especially between genders, it’s done, there are corrective measures; and ensuring social and financial sustainability.

The Secretary of State dwells on this last point: “The Planning Office tells us that there is a slight deterioration in the proposed measures of the order of 0.1% of GDP by 2070. There must be additional measures or modulate existing measures, for example the pension bonus which was proposed by Karine Lalieux [la ministre des Pensions, PS, NDLR], to ensure that we do not have a negative impact on the financial trajectory. And that is what is on the government’s table.

He insists : “Europe is not asking today for a reform that would go against the interests of pensioners, certainly not. […] There will be no pension reform on the backs of pensioners.“Thomas Dermine also believes that this would be unthinkable in the current context of the purchasing power crisis.

It is not by punishing the unemployed that we will manage to increase the employment rate

The Secretary of State for Recovery takes the opportunity to highlight the results of the Vivaldi government: “The employment rate is also increasing in Wallonia and we manage to do so much faster than the MR and the NV-A. Why ? Because at some point, you have to question the paradigm. And it is not by making work insecure, it is not by punishing the unemployed that we will manage to increase the employment rate. It’s by adjusting employment, it’s by securing workers, it’s by giving paternity leave to dads, by allowing mums to adjust their working hours, it’s by raising the minimum wage for encourage people to work, including in low jobs. That’s what you have to do.

He concludes : “We see that it works and it’s true that sometimes this Vivaldi government has trouble selling itself, we have never created as many jobs in Belgium as under this government. This is the first time that we have exceeded five million Belgians in employment, and that with a socialist employment minister and with recipes that are fundamentally different from the liberal recipes that are systematically applied to the labor market.

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