The e8.7bn Swiss Railway pension fund, Pensionskasse SBB, has written to the government to ask for help after posting a CHF2.3bn (e1.49bn) deficit in spite of emergency measures in place for two years.
The scheme, one of the biggest in the country, caters for workers of the railway and is currently experiencing “serious problems”, SBB spokesman Roland Binz said.
The funding ratio of the 58,000-member fund has dropped to 83.4%, in spite of the “restructuring contribution” that both sponsor and members have paid since July 2003.
Members and sponsors pay the equivalent of 1.5% of monthly salaries as a restructuring fee, which brings Pensionskasse SBB’s coffers a total of CHF50m.
Binz explains that the pension fund was funded in 1999 as an entity independent of SBB, with start-up money from the government, which provided resources for the founding level to be 100% but not enough for reserves.
Binz says that returns had
not met expectations. “It is also a question of having more payees than active members,” he added. According to the fund’s estimates as of the end of 2003, pensioners amount to 28,417 and active members to 29,890.
Rudolf Stampfli, director of the fund, said that it posted a 3.94% return in 2004 and would need at least a 5.5% return to plug the deficit and bring the fund back to 100% solvency.
“The first quarter is not over yet,” he observed. “But the first two months have been satisfactory.”
Stampfli declined to say whether the fund’s deficit could prompt a change in the asset allocation, but commented: “Help from the state is very important.”