Of note, government debt to pension funds hovers around 1.5 quadrillion rials ($45.3 billion), including 1 quadrillion rials ($30 billion) owed to the SSO alone. This sum should be added to the commitments Eslamian says previous administrations have imposed on pension funds.
Eslamian also urges policymakers to gradually increase the retirement age. Pension experts say the current average retirement age, which hovers around 52 years, must be raised, because life expectancy has significantly increased in past years. World Bank data show that in Iran life expectancy rose from 60 years in 1981 to 76 years in 2013.
Esmail Gorjipour, a senior pension expert with the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, has criticized previous administrations’ pension policies, arguing that they have led to an effective decrease in the retirement age. He suggests that the retirement age be raised by 12 to 13 years.
The majority of Iranians who retire in their 50s are of an age to be recruited again for work. Thus, the number of jobseekers continues to rise while the government’s ability to create more employment opportunities remains underdeveloped. The Rouhani administration claims that it has proposed solutions to the problems of the pension system in the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-2021), now being reviewed in parliament. It is not yet clear whether Rouhani has also considered a mechanism to supervise the performance of pension funds under the five-year plan, which is said to focus on the looming water, environmental and pension crises.