Russia’s second-pillar mandatory system faces another year of withheld contributions, with the monies going instead to the first-pillar Pension Fund of the Russian Federation (PFR).
However, the PFR’s gain enabled the government to reduce transfers to the Fund from the state budget for 2014, and again in 2015.
Finance minister Anton Siluanov has announced that next year the state will save some RUB309bn (€6.2bn), of which some RUB100bn will be diverted to a newly created anti-crisis fund to aid those companies affected by EU and US sanctions in the wake of Russia’s support of separatist rebels in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian crisis has longer-term implications for future state pensions.
The targeted companies include Rosneft, the largely state-owned oil giant, whose investment programmes include the strategic development of the country’s Arctic oil fields.
Rosneft was recently given leave to seek financial assistance from the National Wealth Fund, and others are set to follow.
The RUB3.1trn fund, financed by oil revenues, was set up partly to finance future state pension deficits.
These are being exacerbated by a shrinking working-age population, a low but politically sacrosanct retirement age (60 years for men, 55 for women) and, most recently, by the annexation of Crimea, which adds further pensioners to the system.
In other news, Poland’s second-pillar pension fund (OFE) system also faces further predations, with the so-called “slider” now in effect.
Under the slider, OFE assets of those citizens with 10 or fewer years left to retirement are being transferred incrementally to the Polish Social Security Institution (ZUS).
Poland’s Finance Ministry recently announced that the transfers would amount to PLN4.7bn (€1.1bn) in 2014 and PLN3.8bn in 2015.
The package of reforms, including the removal of all government bonds in February, has shrunk net assets from PLN296bn at the end of January 2014 to PLN147bn by end-July, according to the latest data from the Polish Financial Supervision Authority.
For the pension management companies, the only current source of new contributions, aside from those switching from rival funds, are new entrants to the workforce.
However, this cohort has been indifferent to the second pillar, with only one in 10 choosing to join this year.
The Constitutional Tribunal has yet to rule on aspects of the reform law.
In late August, it received another submission, from Poland’s Human Rights Ombudsman.
Lastly, in the neighbouring Czech Republic, the pension reforms introduced by the previous government continue to unravel.
While the newly introduced second pillar is set to be abolished, the new third pillar is set for massive consolidation.
The new third pillar replaced one-size-fits-all “transformed” funds with “participation” funds.
Licensed pension companies can offer, alongside a compulsory conservative fund, programmes with a range of risk profiles.
One of the legal requirements was that each of the new non-compulsory funds accumulated a minimum CZK50m (€1.8m) in capitalisation within two years of being licensed by the Czech National Bank.
In total, 33 funds have been licensed, but around 60% of the membership has opted for conservative structures, leaving many of the riskier funds undercapitalised and the eight providers set to merge their less popular offerings.