SPAIN - The Spanish government denied it planned to increase the number of contributory years needed to retire, but said it would continue with plans to raise the pension age by two years.
In a statement, the government said it amended the Stability Plan 2009 - 2013 originally sent to the European Commission on January 29. The document initially contained a paragraph explaining Spain could save 4% of GDP by increasing the number of contributory years needed to retire to 25 years from 15 years, and increasing the pension age to 67.
The revised document now says the government did not propose an increase in contributory years, but formulated a "hypothesis" that if implemented could have helped to shore up the state's finances.
However, according to government documents, the plan to increase the pension age will go forward. The government said it will be discussed in the parliament and with the unions.
The government step-back has been strongly criticised by the opposition Partido Popular and the main trade unions.
PP secretary María Dolores de Cospedal said in a radio interview the correction made clear that "the government lacks credibility and firmness and that government's inactivity is detrimental to Spanish workers".
The trade unions went even further. Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) said the initiatives on pensions contained in the Stability Plan 2009 - 2013 are "more like the actions of political amateurs rather than a government".
CCOO also said: "It is hard to accept that measures on pensions which will have effect from 2013 are included in the Stability Plan when the Stability Plan has effect until 2013."
The Union General de Trabajadores said: "The sustainability of the pension system should not be guaranteed by making citizens work more. We utterly refuse this position."
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