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Italy eyes date for second-pillar boost

ITALY – Italian welfare minister Roberto Maroni has said that one of the main aspects of the pension reform aimed at developing the second pillar could be implemented in July - in spite of a continued lack of clarity about the regulator.

Maroni’s announcement comes days after welfare undersecretary Alberto Brambilla said that the government will be ready to present new rules for pension-savings investments by the first half of May.

Maroni however said the July implementation depended on the Italian banks’ association, ABI, which is expected to give the green light to the pension reform.

ABI will consider especially the issue of compensation for employers who will be called to invest employees’ severance payments or Tfr in pension funds, instead of keeping it until workers’ retirement. The association was unavailable for comment.

The reform gives workers six months to decide whether to invest their Tfr, in pension funds. The default ‘silent assent’ period was originally planned to begin this July.

Speculation about the time scale for Tfr investment regulation in pension funds has been rife in the last week. The ministry said in March that ‘silent assent’ would be postponed to September due to a lack of clarity about Covip’s supervisory role amid the pension reform and a new bill to protect savings.

But in spite of current confusion about regulation, Maroni said last month that July could be “technically possible”. Last week Brambilla last said the cabinet was expected to have the regulations ready for the social partners by May 12.

Maroni’s latest announcement does not mention Covip, whose role is still unclear following the contrast between the pension reform and a law currently considered by the Senate, which strips Covip of regulatory powers over insurance.

In an interview to IPE last week, Luigi Schimia the president of pension regulator Covip said Tfr represented a business of up to €10bn a year.

Schimia, said he was satisfied the agency will be given back full power of supervision on pension-related investments in spite of late legislation.

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