EUROPE - The European statistical office says the transfer of company pension funds to states should be recorded as government revenue - with a positive impact on government deficits.
The Eurostat ruling will be seen as backing the transfer of the five million-euro Belgacom to the Belgian state in the run-up to the company’s initial public offering.
According to newspaper reports, the draft IPO – which could raise up to 11 billion euros - plan has been approved by the Belgian Banking, Finance and Insurance Commission.
“Eurostat has decided that the payments received by a government from a corporation in the context of a transfer of obligations under funded schemes that the corporation operates for its own employees should be recorded as government revenue and should therefore have a positive impact on government surplus or deficit,” the body said in a statement, which did not mention Belgacom by name.
This decision follows an October 2003 decision which covered unfunded schemes.
It said payments connected to the transfer of pension obligations “have the same impact on government deficit in the cases of both funded and unfunded schemes organised by a corporation”.
It said the transfer of pension obligations was “neutral (or very close to neutrality) over time”.
The ruling followed a majority view, by 17 to 12, of national statistics institutes and central banks that was collated by the EU’s Committee for Financial, Monetary and Balance of Payments Statistics.