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Liechtenstein rules out legal action over state pension fund shortfall

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  • Houses of Parliament, Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is planning to create a new public pension fund to tackle chronic underfunding, and ruled out taking legal action against those responsible for a sizeable funding gap at the original scheme, a government spokesman has said.

Earlier this spring, a Swisscanto report identified several major problems with the Liechtenstein state pension fund, the PVS.

Over the summer, the government commissioned legal experts to determine who was responsible for the CHF300m (€250m) funding gap at the CHF600m pension plan covering all public employees.

The government spokesman told IPE the final report confirmed that board members, as well as the authorities, had been responsible for the dire financial situation at the PVS.

But he said the government concluded there was not enough evidence to file individual lawsuits.

“Therefore,” he said, “no charges will be brought forward.”

Meanwhile, Liechtenstein’s Parliament has approved the creation of a new state pension fund, which is to take the form of an independent foundation.

The new fund should be up and running by 1 July 2014.

“It can be set up as a collective scheme, which would allow municipalities or state-owned companies to join,” the spokesman said.

The “PVS neu” will be set up as a defined contribution scheme, unlike the previous defined benefit plan.

The state is to account for most of the funding gap at the old pension plan by making a CHF206m contribution, increasing the funding level up to 90%.

It will also grant an interest-free loan covering the final CHF101m, which is to be repaid during years with good returns.

The government said employees would contribute around CHF200m to the fund’s buffers by cuts in benefits.

Retirees will also have to transfer parts of their benefits into these buffers.

However, a regional politician – Nikolaus Frick, who sits on a municipal council – has launched a campaign against the new fund, putting forward a separate proposal for a new fund that, according to him, will save more money.

The government deemed his first proposal unconstitutional, but Parliament is to consider a second plan during its November session.

If one of the politician’s proposals passes muster, the government will have to hold a referendum on these alternative pension fund solutions.

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