Political consensus is key to any stable and sound development of a long-term social welfare system as shown by Sweden’s successful experience, Ulf Kristersson, the country’s minister for social security, said Monday.
The Swedish model was possible because the country was able to maintain the direction of its core welfare policies such as its pension scheme, regardless of the transfer of power, he said.
“There is a responsibility to create a stable playing field for people, not to change everything every time you have new governments. So if possible, try to find a reasonable agreement that are stable all the time and make the people to plan their lives in a long-term manner,” he said at a press conference in Seoul Monday.
|Ulf Kristersson, Swedish minister for social security. (Yonhap News)|
“Pension scheme is always sensitive ― but we decided not to fight over the issue every four years, and made a bipartisan agreement, regardless of who is in government for the moment, to develop these reforms over time,” the minister said.
The Swedish minister signed a memorandum of understanding with Health and Welfare Minister Chin Young for the two countries’ mutual recognition of their social insurance systems. The pact will exempt Korean citizens working in Sweden and Swedish citizens working in Korea from double duties on social insurance payments for five years.
The minister also stressed that the government or society itself should encourage people to work, particularly in the face of a growing number of senior citizens.
“All the welfare ambitions have to be paid for,” he said.
“The more generally the welfare programs are covered … and the higher the ambitions are to help people who cannot support themselves, the more you have to emphasize that everybody who is able to work, has to work,” he said.
Even a successful welfare state like Sweden faces the lingering problem of how to make people less dependent on social programs, he said. To this, the Nordic country plans to increase the average retirement age to 70. The average retirement age in Sweden is currently 63.5.
By Cho Chung-un (email@example.com