President Moon Jae-in on Monday stressed the need to expand national pension payments, a move that would inevitably lead to a rise in premiums, but said any change must be based on a national consensus.
"The national pension, fundamentally, is an official welfare system operated by the government in which the people pay insurance premiums when they are making money and receive pensions when their income disappears in their old age," the president said in a weekly meeting in Seoul with his aides at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
Moon's remarks came as the government is drafting a revision to the law on the national pension system, based on a recommendation submitted earlier by a state commission that stressed the need to increase pension premiums and reduce payouts to keep the fund from being depleted.
The president dismissed the fear of the pension fund running dry as hearsay.
"Because it is a system managed by the nation, there can never be a case where those who paid insurance premiums cannot collect payments as long as the nation exists," he said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
The president said any change to the system will also be based on a national consensus, no matter how long the process takes.
"Because the people own the national pension system, the most important element in reforming the pension system is a social consensus," Moon said, noting similar processes in other countries often take more than a decade.
"I ask you to discuss the government bill on a premise that it will be pursued through active discussions between the government and the parliament and on a social consensus, no matter how long it takes," he added.
The president also stressed the need to expand benefits.
"Based on recent statistics, we may assume the number of (people) aged more than 65 years or 70 years and with no earned income is fast growing. And thus the government is moving toward a goal of increasing the post-retirement incomes of the people through the national pension, government allowances and retirement pension programs," he said. (yonhap)