Shrinking our Pensions to Maximise Their Profits

Issue section: 

The World Bank is one force behind the attacks on pensions

As a member of the pensioner youth wing - that is, 65 this year - I read The Walrus (June SR) with great interest. He is of course right in every aspect of the article.

To back him up in this I here quote directly from the World Bank website (

'Pension systems are a relatively new area for the World Bank, which has been increasing its lending and technical assistance activities in this area since 1990. The bank has in the past been involved in devising pension schemes for private sector employees, but is increasingly involved in public pension reform efforts. Bank staff are engaged in public pension system reform work in 30 countries, through adjustment lending, project lending, and technical assistance.

'The bank's concerted efforts in this area were highlighted with the 1994 publication of "Averting the Old", which assessed various pension systems around the world to help define the bank's policy direction and future activities in this area. There have been major pension reforms undertaken in Latvia, Poland and Hungary, all with bank assistance; and in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Bolivia. Countries where bank technical assistance has been provided include China, Russia, Turkey, Thailand, Korea, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt.

'The World Bank advocates a multipillar approach. The public pillar, by payroll taxes or general revenues, focuses on redistribution. The second pillar is a funded system, where individuals' mandatory contributions are saved and invested to pay for future pensions. This allows individuals to save for their own old age, but generally does not redistribute. And finally mandatory pensions should be small enough [my emphasis] to allow growth of a third pillar, voluntary savings, allowing individuals to choose how to allocate their income over their lifetime.'

I believe we can all see that the bank's 'multipillar approach' is exactly the policy now adhered to by all of our parliamentary political parties. It can also be seen from the above that this is not only happening in Britain - it is worldwide. All in the drive for maximising profits.

So there we have it. In fact they are quite open about it. Profits once again come before people. If the banks and big business cannot have their rake-off then ordinary working people can live in poverty during their retirement.

Of course they are attempting to provide an alternative to this-you can work until the age of 100 and drop dead at work. To quote the old blues song, 'Life's a bitch and then you die.'

John P Johnston