IRELAND - The Irish pension industry has called for greater clarity of regulation in defined contribution (DC) schemes, according to responses to a consultation on the DC pension system.

Launched by the Pensions Board late last year, the consultation was launched to simplify the existing framework - with the regulator saying it was "anxious" to hear from the industry.

In a summary of more than a dozen responses submitted, the industry expressed a wish for a rationalisation of existing pension products, with a number suggesting that Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs), Buy-out bonds (BOBs) and Personal Retirement Bonds (PRBs) should be brought under the banner of a single product.

Respondents also examined the issue of buying out deferred members, with a number of responses suggesting that transfers of pots with less than €50,000 should be allowed without consent from members.

"One respondent suggested the existing regulations should be amended to facilitate the movement of DC deferred members from occupational schemes into 'consolidator' arrangements," the summary said, echoing proposals put forward by the Irish Association of Pension Funds for the launch of a National Pensions Default Fund.

The summary added: "They are of the view that the member protections should be incorporated into the approval process rather than the transfer process."

Pension saving and how this interacts with taxation was also a concern, with one submission recommending the standardisation of retirement ages and tax relief across all existing models to promote "simplification and understanding".

The summary continued: "Two organisations supported the early access to pension funds for members, one suggested a lifetime maximum of 25% up to a limit of €200,000 and the other supported the possibility of some early drawdown of pension funds from a pension fund."

Such proposals were debated in the Dáil earlier this year, with proponents arguing it would incentivise pension saving and give members access to funds to pay mortgages.

However, the government quickly dismissed the idea, saying it "ran counter" to its current policy.