Burton Is Accused of Hypocrisy on Pensions

Article excerpt

Byline: Senan Molony Political Editor

THE coalition has been accused of 'staggering hypocrisy' after Joan Burton claimed she wanted to defend pensions.

The Government's new 0.6 per cent pension levy will siphon [euro]450million a year for the next four years from the accumulated retirement savings of private individuals. But prior the launch of the Pensions Board's annual report, the Social Protection Minister claimed to be protecting those funds.

Miss Burton said in a press release: 'I share a common purpose with the board in relation to pensions, which is to ensure that the individual pension rights of members will continue to be safeguarded.' However, Jerry Moriarty, director of policy at the Irish Association of Pension Funds, disagreed.

He said: 'It is staggering hypocrisy. It completely ignores what the Government has decided to do.

'For the minister to claim she is defending private pension rights is denying reality.

'The numbers in pension schemes are falling, and the Government has decided to take millions of euro out of them for their own purposes - while demanding that the trustees of those funds repair the deficits.' He added: 'What is actually taking place is that 200 defined benefit schemes closed last year, and there are 36,000 fewer members across the board.

'So the action the Government has been taking is the exact opposite of what the minister now claims.' The Department of Social Protection circulated a copy of the Miss Burton's remarks but it later emerged that she had not made the claim that the Government was 'safe-guarding' individual pension rights to the Pensions Board members at the launch.

The board monitors and safeguards the interests of more than one million people who are members of occupational pension schemes or who have personal retirement savings accounts (PRSAs).

But the actions of the Government are making it difficult for the board to recruit new savers to PRSAs - since newcomers will face taxation for each of the next four years, with the levy pledged to end thereafter. …