Irish government requests OECD review of pension policy
IRELAND - The OECD is to conduct a review of Irish pension policy in light of the current economic climate, the country's minister for social protection has announced.
Speaking at the Irish Association of Pension Funds' (IAPF) annual dinner last week, minister Joan Burton said the OECD had been invited to ensure government policy met the "needs of future generations", according to a spokesman.
He was unable to say if the review would cover pension policy as a whole or only the state pension system, adding: "The terms of reference have yet to be agreed."
The review comes at a time when the Irish pension industry is awaiting details of the new funding standard - the publication of which has been repeatedly postponed, with Pensions Board chief executive Brendan Kennedy saying last month that he was "well aware of the importance of [the] matter" and promising that publication would occur "as soon as possible".
Speaking to IPE, the IAPF's head of policy Jerry Moriarty speculated the review was to replace a previously announced parliamentary committee on the matter.
He said the commission's initial purpose was to look at the "various reports done in the past 10 years in light of changing economic circumstances" and that, if proposed, government reform was "still valid".
"I am only speculating, but it may be because a commission - particularly if you have all the stakeholders involved - results in a fairly unwieldy group," he said. "Asking one group or body in to do that work, [the government] might find it a bit more expedient in terms of achieving results quickly."
Moriarty added that the OECD would obviously have experience reviewing pension systems across the world and in light of differing economic climates.
He added that Burton's speech referred to proposals for an auto-enrolment pension scheme in Ireland, proposed as part of 2010's National Pensions Framework.
However, the framework - part of the previous government's review of the entire pension system - said the 2014 launch of such reforms would only occur if they were "prudent given the economic conditions" at the time.
Discussing the progress made, Moriarty said: "I don't get the impression there is a lot of real work going on, in terms of designing a system or putting a structure in place."
He referred to the UK government's work to design the National Employment Savings Trust, saying that little of the work done by the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority in the run-up to the rebrand had been mirrored in Ireland to date.
Moriarty said that, in light of austerity measures requiring the department of social protection to focus its efforts on Irish welfare expenditure, pensions risked becoming the "poor relation".
"They do seem to be making efforts [to show] that it is being looked after, and the OECD review is one way of doing that," he said.