Maternity Pension Turns Into IRL's Baptism as Opposition Party
A number of politicians from IRL, recently ousted from the governing coalition, came outside on Tuesday to protest against deferring payments of the mother's pension, the most visible issue on which it and ruling party Reform differ.
The maternity pension was established with a legal amendment in 2012. In 2015, according to original plan, the state would have started to pay around 60 euros per child in supplemental pension to one of the child's parents, in cases where the parent is already on pension.
But IRL says the new Cabinet has decided to defer the payouts.
"They didn't dare write it into the coalition agreement. Later, when accusations were heard about the budget was flapping in the wind and not in balance, they started coming up with various covering funds. The place they decided to hit was mothers and grandmothers who are now on pension," IRL chairman Urmas Reinsalu said.
IRL member Margus Tsahkna said: "They've decided to take 23 million euros of money away and use it to patch budget holes."
The new Minister of Social Welfare Helmen Kütt (Reform Party) confirmed the plan is under discussion.
"Deferring the parental pension to 2018, not abolishing it, is under discussion. The parental pension places people who have no children in an unequal situation. Even in families where there are two spouses, only one of them joins the parental pension," she said.
The Reform Party MPs' deputy head, Remo Holsmer, said the change isn't being decided in secret and the maternity pension would come into effect in 2018.
"If we're talking about next year and the portion that was supposed to come into effect, it's 5 euros a month for a pensioner with a child. The goal of the cabinet just formed is to raise pensions by 23 euros next year. We want the average old-age pension to continue to be tax-free as well."
Holsmer painted the street corner demonstration as an example of how IRL and Center are bedfellows, an impression IRL has been at pains to counter.
An independent policy analyst from Praxis Centre for Policy Research, Andres Võrk, said the change could have a neutral effect in the long run.
"An average pensioner who has raised three kids would lose out on 400 euros a year," he said. "The current coalition has promised to increase family benefits with the same money. Thus in the social policy sense, it's a redistribution from one generation to another."
He added that pensions and the tax-free limit for pensions would rise anyway, benefiting older people, so the decision to deprive them of another benefit was justified.