Pensions not to be cut, hints Cowen


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen gave a strong hint last night that the old age pension will not be cut in the budget on December 9th.

Speaking at a pension fund awards ceremony at the RDS in Dublin, he outlined the measures introduced over the years to improve the living standards of pensioners and said it was not his objective “to undo all of that good work now”.

Mr Cowen told the audience at the European Pension Funds awards ceremony they should be mindful of the large number of people who didn’t have a lot of disposable income to participate in savings schemes or pension investments and relied on the State pension.

“It is my intention in dealing with the budgetary crisis to ensure that those people will not be adversely affected by the decisions we have to make,” he said.

Mr Cowen said budgets were not simply about balancing books – as important as that was, they were also about acknowledging what was important in society. “I am proud of the provision we made for pensioners during the good years. It is not my objective to undo all of that good work now.”

He said the financial crisis had caused a lot of worry for everyone, particularly elderly people. “Many pensioners around the country have been prudent in investing in pension funds in order to provide for themselves in their retirement years. I am saddened that those people who have been prudent and have been conscious of their obligations to themselves and their families in making such pensions provision, have had their investments greatly depleted as a result of the recent financial markets collapse.”

He added that with the collapse of the financial markets and share values, those people who looked to the banks as the safest return on their investment had seen their faith shattered. “Once regarded as blue-chip shares, they have now seen the value of shares in financial institutions virtually wiped out in a very short time.”