Paraguay’s leading workers’ unions and pensioners celebrated the Senate’s rejection of a pension reform bill Thursday, which would have created the Superintendency of Retirement and Pensions to regulate private and public pension funds.
Unions, students, pensioners and civil society groups criticized the bill stating that it didn't establish parity in the Superintendency’s Advisory Board. According to the groups, a failure to do so could lead to the body having a bias against working class citizens, including raising the retirement age.
Following a series of protests, roadblocks, marches, and strikes throughout the country, the Senate decided to backtrack on the proposal and reject the bill.
Senator Dionisio Amarilla, current head of the Senate's Finance Committee and member of the ruling Colorado Party, who previously promoted the bill agree with the broader Senate's move to quash it.
"This project does not change the retirement age nor the handling of the pension funds, but we recognize that the mobilization must be addressed," Amarilla said.
Detractors have warned that the Senate's decision is only a partial victory and that the proposed reform will be presented again in the lower chamber where it needs just 53 votes.
“This is not going to stop us; it is only a first step. Now we will organize more demonstrations, and we will encourage our colleagues to go to the legislators to present our arguments. We don’t discard new strikes,” said Blanca Avalos of the National Union of Paraguay's Education Workers (OTEP-SN).
Finance Minister Benigno Lopez said he didn’t agree with the senators and announced he would continue with efforts to pass the bill. "We will continue working so that, sooner rather than later, we can have that law. I think we must know how to read the level of tension all this has generated to be able to present a bill that solves the problems that were raised and that garners greater consensus," he said.