HUNGARY - The local pension fund association has called on the Hungarian people to make "voluntary contributions" to ensure the survival of the country's beleaguered second-pillar pension system.

Last year, the government effectively nationalised most of the assets in the second pillar in a bid to tackle its budget deficit.

Since then, it has also accused pension funds of having charged "exaggerated" fees.

Stabilitas, the country's pension fund association, has announced that it will now call on Hungarians in the second pillar to continue making voluntary contributions to ensure the funds can cover operational costs, as well as fees to the regulator.

Gabor Borza, chief executive at ING Pension Fund Hungary, told IPE his company had issued a similar statement "fully in line" with Stabilitas's appeal.

"Without voluntary donations," Borza added, "the fund cannot survive."

Pension fund members will have until the end of March to decide whether to remain within the second pillar or leave the system.

The local pensions subsidiary of Austria-based Erste Group has already announced that it plans to cease operations within the second pillar altogether and focus on the third pillar instead.

Borza said ING had not discussed exiting the market, but he acknowledges that the company's projections were "based on the current legal environment and members' willingness to pay donations".

According to Stabilitas's calculations, funds would need approximately HUF168,000 (€575) per member every year, depending on the number of members and the size of the operational buffers. 

In statement, ING said it would only need voluntary contributions from 2013.

The subsidiary of the Dutch bank is still considering whether to appeal a recent court decision ruling in favour of the Hungarian regulator, which demanded the pension fund pay back some of the fees it charged members.