Civil servants get to keep their 'jackpot pensions'

5th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 4, 2006 (AFP) - France has refused to scrap a hotly-contested system of pension bonuses for civil servants who end their career on one of five French overseas territories, including tourist hotspots Tahiti and Réunion.

PARIS, Dec 4, 2006 (AFP) - France has refused to scrap a hotly-contested system of pension bonuses for civil servants who end their career on one of five French overseas territories, including tourist hotspots Tahiti and Réunion.

The Senate voted on Saturday by 186 votes to 16 to uphold the system, which cost the state EUR 250 million last year, despite one senator's dogged campaign to have it abolished.

Under rules dating from the 1950s, civil servants who serve out the end of their career on — or decide to retire to — one of the five island territories receive bonuses to their pensions of between 35 and 75 percent.

The territories concerned are the Indian Ocean islands of Reunion and Mayotte, New Caledonia and French Polynesia in the Pacific, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Canada.

There are increasing concerns that civil servants are exploiting the system, some by simply setting up a bogus postal address overseas.

From 9,618 in 1989, the number of beneficiaries has jumped to 32,172 last year, with mainlanders now making up 83 percent of all civil service pensioners in New Caledonia, and 60 percent in Polynesia.

Critics have denounced what they describe as "jackpot pensions" for civil servants, at a time when France, like all developed countries, is under pressure to reform its costly pension system.

The centre-right senator Jean Arthuis — head of the Senate finance commission, which has criticised the system as deeply unfair — was behind the latest attempt to have it abolished, the fourth in three years.

But the Senate overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the 2007 budget which would have abolished the bonus system from next year.

Budget Minister Jean-François Copé, who this year ordered an audit into the question, said the government was determined to reform it but only after fully consulting French unions.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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