echo interview with Daniel Leupi, Zurich City Councillor, Chief Financial Officer and President of the Zurich City Pension Fund
elipsLife echo: The end of August last year saw the Federal Council table a proposal for the reform of the AHV pension system in Switzerland. The Left is against raising the retirement age for women and the other parties miss forward ideas to solve the AHV’s structural problems. How do you assess the Federal Council’s proposal?
Daniel Leupi: It’s my view that securing the future of our pension system is one of the major challenges facing us in the years ahead, along with climate change, regulating the nature of our relationship with the European Union and the maintenance of an open and just society.
I haven’t yet delved into the details of the proposal. However, I think raising the retirement age is on the cards. We can’t just go on raising AHV contributions ad infinitum. People are living longer and as long as revenue stays flat as a result of low interest rates, we actually have no other choice but to raise the pension age. That being said, such a move would need to be accompanied by social cushioning measures. People’s expectations of their retirement, formed over more than thirty years of their working lives, can’t just be overturned in a short space of time. Those that still can have to be given the chance to adapt to the prospect of a higher retirement age. On the other hand, people on the verge of retirement, who can no longer make the necessary provisions for such a change, need to be given a helping hand. In a prosperous country such as Switzerland no one should have to endure hardship as a result of this development.
So you’re in favour of raising the retirement age for women to 65?
Yes, but only provided we have to talk about raising the retirement age for men as well. At all events, it’s essential we provide women with social and financial compensation to help them cope with this change. In this context, we would need to factor in, and discuss, all the areas where women are still at a disadvantage. With wage and salary comparisons here in Zurich city, for example, we see only a minimal, but still inexplicable, pay differential of 0.6% between men and women. So the public sector is undoubtedly doing better than some areas of private industry that still need to make more progress in this connection.
In your view, what’s the most important aspect of AHV reform?
The key area is sustainability. In Zurich, I also see this in our financial policy. In the medium- and long-term, we need to keep the systems balanced so that citizens don’t lose confidence in the central functions of the state. This applies particularly to old-age provisioning. In Switzerland, there are massive disparities in wealth and income. Consequently, social balance and security in old age are important issues.