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Labour proposes 12 changes to pensions schemes

Joseph Muscat said a Labour government would also continue building on the reform launched in 2016 which led to the first increase in pensions in more than 25 years.

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
7 May 2017, 7:30am
The Labour Party’s focus on pensions in the election campaign was built around the many successes the current administration had already managed to achieve in the past four years, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said yesterday.

At a press conference in Marsa, Muscat said that his party’s plans for pensioners were aimed at ensuring a better standard of living for all and guaranteeing rights and standards that had so far been ignored.

“First of all, we are committed to give pensioners the €8 weekly increase established in the agreement on the minimum wage rise, and we are aiming to gradually increase the national minimum pension to 60% of the national mean income,” he said.

Muscat said a Labour government would also continue building on the reform launched in 2016 which led to the first increase in pensions in more than 25 years.

“We are also promising to give the full cost of living bonus to all those who became pensioners after 2008,” he said.

The prime minister said the Labour Party was also proposing to offer a full pension to widows and widowers who reach pensionable age.

In the case of the services pension, the Labour Party is suggesting that the computation given up when people choose to take a lump sum be totally ignored when social security benefits are calculated.

“And in the case of members of the police force, the armed forces and civil protection, we will make it possible for them to have their pensions calculated on their highest current income, and no longer on their pay while serving in any of the three,” Muscat said.

He said that the Labour Party was also proposing to pay the invalidity pension in full to persons certified to be suffering from terminal diseases.

Muscat said his party was committed to introducing legal amendments to ensure that persons who go through a separation or divorce – or whose cohabitation comes to an end – receive full pension benefits even if they would have left the workplace to look after the family.

“One important proposal we are putting forward and which is bound to affect more women than men is our recommendation that people who have more than one part-time job, and who do not work full-time, be able to pay national insurance on more than one part-time job, for a maximum of 40 hours work per week,” he said.

This, he added, would be of great benefit to the workers when they reach pensionable age as well as help to curb abuse.

Muscat said a Labour government would also continue to offer incentives on savings and private pensions.

“In this context, we will double the contribution to €2,000, therefore increasing the maximum tax credit to €300,” he said.

Pensioners under 65 years of age who remain self-employed will have the rate of their social security contributions reduced to one based pro rata instead of a full flat rate.

“And finally,” Muscat said, “we will continue to ensure that no tax is paid on any pension up to €13,000.”

In the case of the corps pensions, the prime minister said that applications had been published on 2 May – to run until 9 June – and will also be open to descendants of past beneficiaries.

The groups to benefit from these schemes include: former corps members working within government departments before 1979; former stevedores who were licensed to work between 4 April, 1973 and 1 June, 2007; constables, sergeants and sergeant majors within the Police Corps who had not been paid for overtime work carried out between 1 January, 1993 and 31 December, 2009; and former workers of the Malta Electricity Board.

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Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...