France must review pension system by 2017: minister

PARIS Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:08pm EST

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PARIS (Reuters) - President Francois Hollande must review France's pension system because a previous reform that drew mass street protests did not go far enough, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Wednesday.

Asked if France needed a new pension reform by the end of the government's current mandate in 2017, he told RTL radio: "It seems to me that we will have to return to this subject ... There will no doubt be a retirement (reform) but it will have to be fair."

In 2010, conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy raised the legal pensionable age by two years to 62, prompting protests that drew millions into the streets of French cities and prompted workers to blockade oil refineries.

Hollande's Socialist government has since revised the reform to allow people who started working before the age of 20 to retire at 60 and to ease conditions for access to full pensions for mothers of three children or more.

But Moscovici said the 2010 reform put in place by Sarkozy's former prime minister Francois Fillon had not gone far enough.

A government-commissioned report published on Wednesday said the pension system's deficit was set to hit as much as 21.3 billion euros ($28.3 billion) in 2017 versus 14 billion in 2011.

By 2020, the shortfall could widen to as much as 24.9 billion euros, according to the report by the an official advisory panel called the Retirement Orientation Council.

Moscovici avoided using the word 'reform'. But he said the government would launch consultations in the first half of 2013 to address the funding shortfall in a way that does not penalize poor workers or those in physically strenuous jobs.

France's main employers association Medef has called for the retirement age to be raised to 63 and for workers to pay contributions for at least 43 years to be awarded the full pension. It is opposed to any raise in the amount of contributions, either for firms or workers. ($1 = 0.7542 euros) (Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Additional reporting by Marc Joanny; Editing by Brian Love/Ruth Pitchford)

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