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Ireland promises road-map for ‘comprehensive’ pension scheme

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The Irish government will soon publish a road-map detailing how it would introduce “a new and comprehensive scheme to drive up pensions coverage” in the country, according to the minister for Social Protection.

Joan Burton said the proposal would set out how the introduction of the new scheme – which she previously revealed would be called MySaver – would be dependent on pre-agreed economic targets being met.

The Labour TD made the announcement as she unveiled the former director of the European Consumers Organisation, Jim Murray, as the head of the Pensions Council, a new body charged with reforming the Irish pensions system in the interest of the consumer.

The council, which will consist of up to 12 members, is to be launched as part of a shake-up of the Irish regulatory system to address concerns of “regulatory capture”, according to Burton.

The changes will see the Pensions Board from today rebranded as the Pensions Authority, retaining Brendan Kennedy in the newly titled role of pensions regulator.

The board’s current chair, Jane Williams, will oversee the three-person Pensions Commission within the new Authority, tasked with monitoring the industry’s adherence with existing regulation.

The Department of Social Protection (DSP) said the Commission would also include Orlaigh Quinn and Ann Nolan, senior officials from the DSP and Department of Finance, respectively.

Burton said: “These structural governance changes provide a clearer landscape and correspond with the longer-term changes I will be bringing forward in relation to pensions policy in Ireland.”

Noting concern that only half of Irish workers are currently covered by occupational pensions, the minister said: “I will publish a road-map in the coming months for the introduction of a new and comprehensive scheme to drive up pensions coverage for workers, with a go-live date that will depend on certain criteria of economic recovery and stability.”

She said a new scheme to improve coverage of occupational provision was “essential”.

Previous governments have suggested the introduction of an auto-enrolment system would be dependant on economic factors, although the pre-bailout Fianna Fáil coalition had suggested a system should be in place by 2014.

Burton also reiterated that the new Council, once fully staffed, would be tasked with tackling “excessive” management fees by implementing recommendations on a report on pension charges that the Irish Association of Pension Funds previously criticised for putting the “worst charges possible” front and centre.

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