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Pension reform must be decided on by start-2008

Decisions on the reform of Hungary's pension system and a schedule for the implementation of changes will have to be made by the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008, Tibor Draskovics, head of the State Reform Committee, told a conference organised by the economic research institute Pénzügykutató on Wednesday. Encouraging Hungarians to work longer before retiring is among the key aims of the government's convergence program, Draskovics said. Draskovics said the main problem for Hungary's budget stems from the fact that the state's obligations to citizens are not clearly defined. This is true in the case of healthcare, social welfare and education, he said. Economist László Antal noted that Hungary's healthcare and pension costs together contribute 3 percentage points of GDP to the deficit. Pension rises, which are currently linked to wage rises and inflation, will have to be based only on inflation in future, he said. (Mti-Eco)