Sustainable pensions & ground rents: tales from the PN metaverse

No one is debating that the PN manifesto was issued in record time. But just as true is the fact that it is also becoming a laughing-stock in record time.

A clear example of the ramshackle nature of this manifesto can be found on page 165. This page is in the section entitled ‘Higher income with a fair tax system’. It is therefore of concern when one finds that in a section talking about taxation and higher government revenue one finds a section titled ‘A sustainable pension’.

The first impression one gets is that the PN are proposing a tax or a new contribution to finance pensions. In fact, sadly they do so, but with typical perverse logic they place this unsavory proposal in the section on ‘Adequate Pensions’ on page 103.

In ‘A sustainable pension system’ one instead finds 6 “proposals”. The first three relate to pensions.

The first says nothing much but the usual high-level talk on the need for a sustainable model without saying what it is. The second says that tax credits for private pensions should be strengthened but does say how and by how much.

It is worth recalling that the PN in Government always resisted these incentives and it had to be a Labour Government that introduced them. The third proposal is to suggest that social security revenue should go in a fund against which social spending is charged. This practice of public accounting has been taking place since 1987 so much so that the welfare gap is calculated every year in the Budget’s Financial Estimates.

Which means that the first three proposals on sustainable pensions strictly speaking are not proposals at all.   

The first three proposals on sustainable pensions, strictly speaking are not proposals at all.   

At this stage, surely the PN’s vision for sustainable pensions emerges in the remaining three proposals. Let us see.

The fourth proposal states that under a Nationalist Government there will be a digitalization project to cover all government land and property. The fifth proposal is to accelerate the transformation of the Land Authority and the Joint Office, so that redemptions of ground rents and recognitions of property ownership are made even faster. The sixth and final proposal says that there is a need for a structured programme for commercial outlets to start redeeming ground rents using commercial rates.

This implies that according to the PN’s vision for 2030, our pension system will become more sustainable through the redemption of ground rents. When faced with this statement pension experts were a bit unsettled and had to admit that they are still unable to understand the relationship between the objective of having sustainable pensions and the proposed policy measures.

The only argument the PN put forward was to ask whether perhaps this was an editing error in the document whereby the pensions section was mistakenly placed in a wrong part of the manifesto, taking the place of a section on the Lands Authority.

Even if this were true, the fact remains that it is worrying that on the important subject of the future of pensions, the PN have only this mess to offer to workers and to pensioners.

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