Report Nº: 95829/03/2022
The pension disorder is one of the main sources of fiscal deficit. Its regulation requires unification so that all workers have the same pension rules. However, from both sides of the political spectrum there is a broad consensus in creating special regimes with more advantageous conditions for some.
In a solemn ceremony attended by the governor of San Juan, the Executive Director of ANSES, national deputies and the general secretary of the wine sector union, the first retirements were granted to vineyard workers. It was celebrated the beginning of the application of a law enacted at the end of last year, which brings forward the retirement at 57 years of age with 25 years of contributions to vineyard workers. This is an advantage over the general system which sets the retirement age at 60 for women and 65 for men with 30 years of contributions.
This law is part of what is known as differential regimes which stipulate early retirement for reasons of premature aging due to the severity of the tasks. The scheme granted to vine growers is added to almost a hundred tasks covered by differential regimes dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. In addition to the differential regimes, there are special regimes that also grant more beneficial treatment than the general regime. Another exception in the pension system are the moratoriums and non-contributory pensions, which are pensions granted without contributions or with insufficient contributions.
In view of the proliferation of exceptional treatments, it is pertinent to ask how much they represent within the total system. According to data from the Secretariat of Social Security and other complementary sources, 9 million retirements and pensions are paid in Argentina of which:
These data show that only 1 out of 4 pensions were granted applying the rules of the general regime with contributions. Half of the pensions were granted without contributions or with insufficient contributions, and a quarter were granted applying more advantageous rules than those of the general regime. The fact that the general regime is applied to a minority, while the majority of workers have access to retirement through different types of exceptions, is an indication of the depth of the social security disorder.
The case of the differential regime for vineyard workers is of little relevance because it covers a universe of a few workers. But it is very illustrative of the way in which legislation on pensions is passed. The law was passed with a high consensus among all the political parties represented in Congress. Its only argument is that the tasks generate premature aging, but no medical studies were presented to support this assertion. Nor were any actuarial study presented to calculate the cost to the pension system of retiring these people earlier. As this law was passed, the cost is socialized, since it establishes an additional employer contribution of 2%, which clearly does not compensate for the higher expenses. In this manner, no incentives are generated for the vineyard companies to adopt the necessary measures avoiding workers suffering.
The pension system is a very delicate institution because it administers rights that generate long-term liabilities for the State. A fundamental principle for preserving equity and sustainability is that all workers should be equal before the pension law. Special treatments –whether for premature aging, in the case of differential regimes, for merit, in the case of special regimes, or without contributions, such as moratoriums– should be designed with transparency and rigor. If there are unhealthy or merit-based tasks –such as teachers, researchers, judges, ambassadors, vineyard workers, among others– that deserve special treatment, the deviations from the general regime should be covered by complementary coverage schemes and the costs, actuarially calculated, should be charged to the sector that generates them.
The special regime for vineyard workers shows that, in pension matters, there is no political division. There is a broad consensus to promote opportunistic and inconsistent policies. As it happens with the rest of the organization of the State, the problems do not originate in the dissent but in the agreements that support wrong policies.