GLOBAL – Traffic to a global online discussion group on pension schemes hosted by the International Monetary Fund has been “disappointing”, its moderator says.

The IMF set up the Electronic Discussion Group in October 2002 to explore alternative treatment of pension schemes in macroeconomic statistical systems.

The debates are accessible to the public, and the site features a total of 27 submissions from 19 pensions experts.

“Measured traffic on the web site is nonetheless still disappointing,” said the IMF’s Philippe de Rougemont, the moderator of the site.

The idea had been to contact potential members in countries with a particular interest in the topic of pension schemes and “seek opinions from the general public via the IMF website”.

“The EDG is still at the beginning of its activities and the moderator can draw no definitive conclusion at this stage,” de Rougemont says in a 44-page interim report on the EDG’s activities.

He says there is one clear message that has emerged from the group’s discussions. “Most, if not all, contributors favour recognising…pension obligations of unfounded pension schemes as liabilities,” de Rougemont writes.

“It is argued that the reality of obligations does not depend on the funding characteristic of the arrangement, particularly when the obligation is recognised in the own financial statement of the entity in question.”

A new report will be drafted by September 2004 “suggesting findings of the EDG and recommendations for private schemes, schemes delineation and terminology”. A preliminary report may be posed by March 2004.