Italy moots raising retirement age

Italy
needs to raise its retirement age by five years to combat a "demographic
timebomb", according to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi
floated the idea in a newspaper interview, which has attracted strong criticism
from unions.

Berlusconi
told the Libero: "In Italy, people retire on average at 57. It means unsustainable
costs and an annoying loss of talent, which could end up sinking us.

"We
need to raise the retirement age by five years.

"We
start off every year with a 70 trillion lire (36bn euro) pension deficit."

Italy,
like many other European countries, has an ageing population relying on a
smaller workforce to fund pensions.

Under
current Italian law, people who have worked for 35 years can retire at 57.

Berlusconi
says his plan to raise the age would be carried out in two stages, taking it to
60 by 2010 and only later to 62.

By Quentin Reade

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