IRELAND – The Irish Pensions Board is to examine the switch towards defined contribution pensions, citing member protection and “the ultimate adequacy of pension provision”.

The board said the number of DC schemes rose 10% to 105,863 in the year, up from 95,975 at the end of 2001. The figures coincide with a three percent drop in the number of defined benefit schemes to 1,901 – although DB membership rose four percent to 471,841.

“While this trend in Ireland is similar to that in other developed countries, the board proposes to examine its causes and implications in the Irish context with particular regards to the questions of member protection and the ultimate adequacy of pension provision,” the board said in its 2002 annual report.

It added that the ratio of DB members to DC members is now at two to one, compared to three to one at the end of 1999.

“The ratio of defined benefits to defined contribution schemes continues to reduce and, within the private sector and the commercial state-sponsored sector the membership of defined benefit schemes is now less than that of defined contribution schemes,” the board said.

There were 231,992 active members in DB schemes at the end of the year, against 237,491 active members in DC schemes.

It added that a total of 12,145 new schemes – comprising 25,240 additional members - were registered in the year.

The board added that it would seek to ensure that regulation does not get in the way of pension provision, saying it was concerned that the “accumulated impact” of regulations could have an “inhibiting effect”.

It would examine ways to ensure that an “appropriate balance” is made between regulatory requirements, member protection and cost of pension provision.