Germany's Scholz rejects further hike of retirement age to 68

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Scholz during an exclusive interview with Reuters in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday a proposal by economic advisers to raise the retirement age further to 68 was wrong and that citizens could rely on his Social Democrats (SPD) to block any such move after September's federal election.

Under existing rules put in place by Chancellor Angela Merkel's first coalition government in 2006, the age at which Germans can draw a full state pension without deductions is due to rise gradually from 65 to 67 years by 2031.

But faced with a rapidly ageing society and a shrinking work force following decades of low birth rates and uneven immigration, a panel of advisers for the economy ministry has suggested increasing the age threshold further to 68 by 2042.

Scholz, who is his party's candidate to become Germany's next chancellor, told an SPD economic conference he would fight the proposal, saying Germans could rely on him to protect fair and stable pensions.

"It's not only based on wrong calculations, it's also socially unfair," Scholz said, adding that previous forecasts of population growth and demographic pressures on the state pension system had turned out to be wrong.

"So it's fair to say that all those horror scenarios are politically motivated and unfounded. They are meant to push through pension cuts for which there is no real need."

In an attempt at damage control, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier from Merkel's conservative party distanced himself from the proposal of his own advisers and said he saw no need for any further changes to the official retirement age.

Scholz has so far struggled to transfer his strong personal approval ratings into higher overall support for his centre-left SPD, who are trailing in opinion polls in distant third place behind the conservatives and opposition Greens.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Caroline Copley and Gareth Jones)

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