I appreciate the equanimity and plurality of El Mostrador and that is why I find it useful to consider some consideration «The stark reality that is about revealing the Treasury: FFAA Pensions are by far the main public expenditure», recently published.
My professional experience has been in the Chilean Navy and I will refer to it, as that is what I know well. In order not to lengthen, I will set out my reasons briefly and succinctly:
The column says that «while a noncommissioned officer perceives on average about $700,000 per month, the average of retirees does so only at $259,000.» This comparison is between a group of top professionals, which has at least 20 and a maximum of 35 years of career and retired civilians of very different level and occupation. If you want to find a professional equivalent to a Navy NCO in terms of the environment, conditions and technological level in which they work, technical ability, physical effort and risk, you could find it in Codelco or another large state enterprise.
It also highlights the magnitude of the figures and their weight in the National Budget. There is no doubt that the non-inclusion of FF.AAs in the AFP system was the military government’s decision – which was not neutral with respect to its own people – but it cannot have been such an absurd decision as that system has remained to this day , even under various governments of political groups that do not profess the same affection to them.
The same goes for the National Defense Forecast Fund (Capredena), a distribution for which I also have reservations.
The article in committee also highlights that «The Counter Markets had access to the Budget data platform and will reveal how the juiciest slice is the FFAA».
In this respect, the FF.AAs are consulted by government and political authorities and, within narrow margins, seek to achieve what is right for them. It doesn’t seem like unusual or strange behavior.
It should be remembered, however, that this system of remuneration (salary, foresight, health and well-being) has governed for most of the twentieth century and the first quarter of the 21st century, and that it is part of a set that links and compensates wages (very low); (premature and decent), term of the career at the employer’s discretion (without expression of cause); health (increasingly crowded and deficient), total service and commitment – permanent and without the right to complaint – including the family. As a sample, during my junior officer years I was approximately 120 days a year away from my home, including the birth of two of my four children.
I do not want to go any further, just remember that between 1975 /76, years of crisis with Peru, until 1977 /82 of crisis with Argentina, the endowment of the FF.AA. increased substantially. Many of those recruited in these emergencies were separated from service in a very unfair and ungrateful manner, others were held for different lapses. A significant number of them are pensioners who weigh on the budget and cause scandal today.
I conclude by pointing out that I am sure that the FFAA’s career and pension system can and should be substantially improved to match the economic, social and technological characteristics of the 21st century. It is not fair that this issue should be raised as another case of FFAA abuse and privilege. It is the result of a system whose over-term, responsibility that falls on many governments – presidents and defense ministers – technically ill-prepared and incompetent and many of them more concerned with their political careers than efficient management of their sector, which do little or nothing while complaining about the limitations of their scarce power, even if they have broad legal and administrative powers to do so.
It seems to me that more than allegations, the FF. Chile’s AA requires attention, commitment, demand, effective leadership, accountability and valuation from governments.
To have a good vassal, a good lord is required.
The content poured into this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.