GERMANY – The take-up of private Riester pensions one year after their introduction has been below expectations and “disappointing”, according to Germany’s insurance industry.

According to the Gesamtverbands der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft (GDV), at the end of last year around three million German citizens had signed up to a Riester-Rente, named after labour minister Walter Riester. The insurance group had originally forecast a take-up of five million.

The figures also fall below the government’s expectations. In November, social security minister Ulla Schmidt targeted four million sales for the state-founded private pension.

The slow take up in individual pensions in Germany has been blamed on complex rules, and uncertainties over last year’s election results. It had been hoped that a new government would simplify the procedures, but Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has insisted that no changes will be made.

Proposals by Germany’s coalition government for capital gains tax to be paid on profits from share sales has further threatened the new third pillar pensions system, as individuals would be taxed on their savings.