The PRSA (Personal Retirement Savings Account) is a new portable pension fund, akin to the UK stakeholder plan, through which the Irish government is seeking to boost pension provision amongst the Irish population from the current levels of around 50% up to 70%.
Both employers and employees can contribute to a PRSA and an individual can continue to pay in should they go self-employed or take a career break. The PRSA is not expected to be a replacement for occupational pension schemes in Ireland.
Currently around six to seven providers are seeking approval from the Irish Pensions Board to market PRSA products. The names of the providers seeking approval have not been made public, although approval is expected by the end of January. The new PRSA accounts would then be up and running by March/April this year. Significantly, there will be no penalties for transfers between providers.
The Irish Pensions (Amendment) Act, 2002, requires that the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs reports back in three years time on the level of pension provision reached following the introduction of the PRSA. However, some believe that this report may be premature as some Irish investors may wait until their Government’s Special Savings Incentive Accounts mature in five years before transferring that sum into a pension.