IRELAND – Dermot Ahern, the Irish minister for social, community and family affairs has announced details of the Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) framework, the stakeholder type Irish personal pension plans that are to form a “significant” component of this summer’s Irish Pensions Bill.

The PRSA, recommended by the Irish Pensions Board in its May 1998 report ‘Securing Retirement Income,’ will be a low-cost, easy access, long-term personal investment account to complement the state pension, says the framework.

“The objective of our pension policy is that all citizens will have an adequate income on retirement and the main components of this are the social welfare pension and an occupational, personal pension. The personal retirement savings account is a key element in our comprehensive pensions plan for the twenty first century,” says Ahern.

The retirement accounts, which will be regulated by the Pensions Board, will take the form of a contract between the provider and the individual, regardless of employment status. According to the framework, account charges will be capped at 5% of contributions paid and 1% per annum of the assets held.
Employers, who do not provide an occupational pension scheme, must provide access to at least one PRSA, and workers can take the account with them when changing jobs. Contributors will also be able to stop and re-start payments without penalty and transfer between accounts without charge.
Money can be withdrawn from the accounts after the age of 60.

The full Pensions Bill should be enacted before the end of the year and the PRSAs should be available to the public in early 2002, says the minister.