SWITZERLAND – The Swiss ministry of finance has appointed consulting firm Watson Wyatt to help it assess solutions to problems at the rail and postal pension funds.

The federal council has asked the ministry to submit proposals on the Federal Railway Pension Fund (SBB) and La Poste by the end of March 2006, so external experts have been taken on.

The move follows a report from Aon Chuard Consulting in August.

Watson will have to examine three options. The first is how to deal with the funds without state aid, which would involve higher contributions from employers and employees.

The second would be the possibility of a single injection of funds.

The third would be a return to the system of partial cover, with a minimal coverage ratio of 80%, a guarantee of the State and a remuneration of the technical overdraft.

Last month IPE reported that the Swiss government is to investigate the reasons for the severe underfunding of the CHF2.15bn (€1.4bn) Swiss transportation sector pension fund Ascoop in 2001.

The government has stated that this is a pre-condition for giving the fund the same kind of support in reconstructing its affairs it has provided for other pensions funds, notably the Swiss Federal Railway Pension Fund (SBB).