The chemical industry pension scheme in Italy, covering around 500,000 employees, will be first to obtain Ministry of Labour approval, which is expected imminently. The scheme is understood to have appointed administrators and a custodian and is in the process of selecting investment managers.

It is expected to be followed by two schemes for the metalworkers and those in commerce. These employ respectively 1.7m and and 2m.The amounts agreed for initial levels of contributions vary for 1% each employer and employee for the chemical and metal workers schemes, and 0.55% for the commercial sector.

There will be additional sums

contributed for the mandatory TFR payments. Other schemes expected to come through later are the agricultural workers, public sector, woodworkers and co-operative workers as well as the scheme for the small businesses.

At the Assoprevidenza, the Italian association of pensions funds in Turin, Mauro Stringat says the new law gives pension a legal status they have not had."Pension funds now have a

specific legal identity." In particular, restrictions will be imposed on who can manage the funds. Currently, anyone can manage money, " he says.

Schemes, such as those run by banks for their employees will have to ensure that managers who are not part of the group will look after the assets. "This is to ensure that money is not diverted from the interests of fund members," says Stringat. But he points out that under the open schemes to be run by financial institutions it will be possible to provide these for specific groups, as well as individuals. "So a single enterprise could have a fund for itself, run by a bank or insurance company," says Stringat.