Experts at odds over timeline for raising retirement age in Vietnam

By Hoang Phuong   April 26, 2017 | 03:15 am PT
Experts at odds over timeline for raising retirement age in Vietnam
Experts say a short timeline for raising retirement age can cause pressure on the labor market. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Thuy
Say young people won't be able to find jobs if old people work for longer.

Employment experts have spoken out against the labor ministry’s new plan to gradually lift the retirement age in Vietnam, saying it would exert pressure on the country’s labor market.

The ministry has proposed raising the retirement age, currently 60 for men and 55 for women, to 62 and 60 respectively, by adding six months to the current retirement age every year starting from 2021.

Nguyen Huu Dung, former director of the Institute of Labor Science and Social Affairs, said many countries are lifting their retirement ages, but the process normally takes up to 15-20 years.

The ministry's proposed increase to the retirement age would take only four to ten years, which is too fast, Dung said.

This would create pressure on the young workforce, so the ministry needs a solution to ensure employment for young people.

It would be better if the ministry added one to three months to the current retirement age every year instead of six months as planned, he suggested.

Lifting the retirement age only suits people with professional qualifications and management skills. The ministry should leave it unchanged for those working in the public sector, and lower it for those who do physically demanding and dangerous jobs.

"The ministry hasn't researched the matter properly, while a survey conducted by the Vietnamese Trade Union found that 70 percent of workers want the retirement age to remain unchanged,” Dung said.

Vu Quang Tho, an official from the Vietnamese Trade Union, said Vietnam’s economy is still recovering and more than 200,000 people with university degrees are currently unemployed.

That is why it is too soon to talk about raising the retirement age, he said. What the authorities need to do now is evaluate the impacts it would have on different groups of workers.

“We cannot tell young people of a working age to wait for old people to retire,” Tho said.

Pham Minh Huan, a retired senior labor official, said lifting the retirement age would balance the pension fund, but employers would have to think for themselves as they have limited budgets to pay salaries.

However, he agreed that the government should raise the retirement age by adding three months per year from 2021.

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