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Friday 22 February 2019


Irish government accused of using complexity 'as a defence for paralysis'

Written by Marek Handzel

The Irish government has been accused of using complexity “as a defence for paralysis” with its latest consultation on how to introduce auto-enrolment into the country.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Tommy Nielsen, chairman of the Association of Pension Trustees in Ireland (APTI), has said that the consultation is another tactic to deflect calls for the Irish pensions system to be simplified. Nielsen has said that the current system does not need changing as the county’s personal retirement savings accounts (PRSAs) can accommodate an auto-enrolment regime.

In a scathing assessment of Ireland’s Department of Social Protection, he criticised it of being in state of paralysis for 16 years — unable to improve the pensions system and incapable of working out who is going to pay for auto-enrolment.

In order to simplify the system, Nielsen has proposed transferring unregulated pension buyout bonds into PRSAs and stopping PRSAs and other occupational pensions from having to move pots into a separate Approved Retirement Fund for payment, unless they are being paid out through an annuity.

The APTI has also been critical of Ireland’s 15 pension vehicles, arguing that it only needs one or two to be able to deliver good pension benefits for its working population. It believes that PRSAs could sit alongside newly-created low-cost master trusts designed to absorb large numbers of small occupational schemes.

It has also maintained that personal pensions should be scrapped, arguing that they do not have any particular qualities that PRSAs do not have as well.

“No minister for social protection with a minimum concern for the welfare of pensioners would allow the current, bizarre pensions landscape to persist,” said Neilsen.

“With a bit of courage, pensions simplification could be simple.”

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