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Judges' Pay and the Constitution

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The memorandum from the judiciary on judges' pay states on its first page that  "Article 68 of the 1922 Constitution provided that the remuneration of judges may not be diminished during their continuance in office". On the second page, it quotes Article 35.5 of the current Constitution as stating that "the remuneration of a judge shall not be reduced during his continuance in office."

To my non-legal mind, the atorney general's advice to the Government about reducing the remuneration of judges as a class was wrong. Maybe, he was mistakenly reading the 1922 Constitution which talked about "judges" and "their" when he offered that advice rather than the current  Constitution which referred to "a judge" and "his".

Letter published in the Irish Times on 13th July 2011.

Fairness in Health

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As one of the best-paid Ministers of Health in the world, Mary Harney's take-it-or-leave-it offer to funding for Thalidomide sufferers as reported by Susan Mitchell (19th December) is extraordinary. Her offer of €62,500 lump sum plus an annual €,680 per survivor contrasts with her own prospective retirement package(based on those quoted for Ahern and Dempsey) of over €300,000 paid in first year in addition to an annual pension in excess of €120,000.

Letter published in the Sunday Business Post on 2nd January 2011. This letter was not tended to be a "dig" at Mary Harney but rather to illustrate (a) the extreme inequity in Irish society and (b) the extent to which our politicians are divorced from their constituents and have feathered their own nests.

Unemployment Crisis

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The Minister for Finance told the Dail on Wednesday last that the unemployment rate will hit 15.5 percent next year. This compares with 11.4 per cent last month and just 5.4 percent for April 2008. Unemployment is expected to reach 366,000 during 2010. This is almost 60% higher than the highest level encountered during the dark eighties - it can be no consolation to the unemployed that the labour force has increased substantially in the interval.

If public sector employment remains steady at 360,000 then private sector will continue to bear the brunt of unemployment. This will bring the sector's unemployment rate to almost 19% notwithstanding across-the-board wage freezes and reductions, impaired pensions and substantial rationalisation.

It begs the question as to why, in this unprecedented crisis, the public sector continues to enjoy a substantial like-for-like wage premium, excellent pension arrangements (notwithstanding the recent levy) and near absolute job security. Surely, it is time for the entire public sector to engage, without preconditions, in a major programme of reform and productivity improvement to align itself more closely with the private sector.

For its part, the Government and opposition should set aside their petty party differences and lead an immediate action plan to contain unemployment, reduce public expenditure, unblock the banking system, protect the least well-off and restore medium-term confidence and competitiveness.

In parallel, the social partners parties must get off their ideological high horses; accept that a substantial across-the-board decline in living standards is inevitable; and start working with the Government to ensure that the major surgery needed to restore the economy's health is executed as fairly as possible. The quicker this is done the sooner the recovery can start.

Facing Reality

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Nothing illustrates the Government's weak-kneed approach to the crisis more clearly than the fact that on the same day that President Obama demanded that US companies receiving bailouts should limit executive salaries to US$500,000, our Taoiseach who earns more than President Obama merely urged top executives in banks covered by tax payers' guarantees to take 25 per cent salary cuts. Arguably, a maximum salary of about €200,000 would be appropriate for Irish bank executives when account is taken of their size relative to their US counterparts

Supplementary Budget

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Here are some suggestions for the Minister for Finance to consider when he is obliged by circumstances to present a supplementary budget early in the new year in response to the disastrous economic downturn which is still gathering momentum.

They should be implemented in the context of a realistic, attainable five-year plan for which the support of the social partners and opposition should be sought. Given that these are unlikely to acquiesce even though they offer no alternatives other than to strut, whine and oppose, the government should, for once, show real leadership and forge ahead on the grounds that there is no alternative and early action is crucial. Most people will accept pain provided it is seen to be fairly distributed and there is hope at the end of the tunnel. The alternative is much higher unemployment, cutbacks, emigration and extreme hardship which will take a decade to unwind.

As those who gained most from the Celtic Tiger should pay the most, the income levy percentages should be extended on a sliding scale from 0% for the lowest paid up to, say, 10% for those on the highest incomes. Alternatively, a new higher tax rate should be introduced for those earning more than, say, double the average industrial wage.

Given that payroll costs account for half of all public sector expenditure where salary rates are well ahead of equivalents in the private sector and internationally, the Government should roll back the first benchmarking exercise and plead "inability to pay" other than to the lowest earners under the new national wage agreement. It should only recommence payment of increases once major reforms have been confirmed by An Bord Slash.

Taxpayers can no longer be asked to subside "gold plated" pensions for politicians and public servants when the value of their own pensions (if they have one) is dropping through the floor. The Government should establish a realistically funded contributory pension scheme in lieu of the present prohibitively expensive and inequitable "pay-as-you-go" arrangement. As a stop gap, full PRSI should be applied across the public sector and, in recognition that PRSI is income tax in all but name, earnings limits should be removed for all workers in the private sector.

The foregoing measures will arrest the catastrophic deterioration in public finances and enable the new standard VAT rate of 21.5% to be reduced substantially. This will help the lower paid as well as assisting tourism and curtailing cross-border shopping.

Finally, the Dail should immediately start sitting for four full days every week for at least forty weeks a year. To ensure genuine debate and better decision making, backbenchers should be pressurised by constituents to exercise greater freedom of expression in Dail debates, and voting linked to constituents' needs rather than party loyalties should become the norm rather than the exception.

Lead letter published by Irish Times on 8th December 2008.

Budget Reactions

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It is clear that (a) the Mininster has underestimated the looming problems (b) taxpayers were braced to accept some pain provided it was seen as equitably distributed (c) reform of the public sector has become a priority and (d) failure to recapitalise the banking systems will lead to a credit famine.

Here are some suggestions to address these matters:

  1. It is clear that the majority will pay for the excesses of the past few years even though only a small minority were the principal beneficiaries. On the basis that those who gained most should pay most, the income levy percentages should be extended on a sliding scale from 0% for the lowest paid up to, say, 10% for those on the very highest incomes and expanded, as a condition of retaining Irish citizenship, to the worldwide incomes of our tax exiles. These changes should raise sufficient revenue to roll back the budget cuts and tax increases impacting on young, old and weak.

  2. Extremely high salaries should be subsidised by shareholders rather than by taxpayers, To this end,  the Finance Bill should disallow any elements of total salary, bonus and pension contribution exceeding, say, 15 times the average industrial wage (c. €600,000) from being tax deductable.

  3. Payroll costs account for about half of all public sector expenditure and salary rates are well ahead of their equivalents in the private sector and abroad. To help reduce costs, restore parity and reduce future borrowings, the Government should plead "inability to pay" other than to the lowest earners under the proposed new national wage agreement.

    It should only agree to recommence payment of increases post-rationalisation and -restructuring as guided by the forthcoming report on the Task Force on Public Service.

  4. The scale of the looming pensions problem is evidenced by the sharp declines in the National Pension Reserve Fund and private sector funds, the poor uptake of pensions by the unpensioned and the surging cost of public sector pensions.

    Taxpayers with low/no pensions should not be required to subside "gold plated" pensions for politicians and public servants. The Government should immediately initiate a realistically funded contributory pension scheme in lieu of the present prohibitively expensive and inequitable "pay-as-you-go" arrangement.

  5. The National Treasury Management Agency should immediately acquire substantial stakes in the quoted Irish banks to recapitalise them as insurances against defaults linked to the State guarantees and in anticipation of their profit declines over the next few years.

    Alternatively, the NPRF should liquidate some of its overseas holdings to acquire these stakes on the grounds that if our banking system fails the funding of pensions for two decades hence becomes academic. Of course, the annual payments of 1% of GNP, financed by borrowings, to the NPRF should be suspended immediately.

Benchmarking II

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The recent reports on benchmarking and higher remuneration in the public sector have raised basic issues about equity and fairness.

First, the Benchmarking Body used a 12% provision while the Higher Remuneration Body used 15% when assessing the value of pensions. These averages have greatly distorted assessments. For example, the percentage applicable to a lowly paid clerical officer would be very different to that for a Garda who can retire at 50 on full pension, or to the Director General of a government department.

Second, Benchmarking II produced evidence that public sector employees were paid a salary premium (averaging 8-10%) on a comparable basis to private sector employees while working fewer hours back in 2003. This was prior to Benchmarking I payments. If account is taken of the resultant benchmark payments (averaging 9%), the additional value of pensions (12%+) and shorter hours worked and longer holidays (say, 10% difference), then the current pay premium for public sector employees could be as high as 40%. The benchmarking report was silent on this and only said that "public sector salaries compare well with the private sector". It would have been useful to have indicated 'how well'.

Third, the cost of Benchmarking I is often quoted in terms of a cost per year. It should be borne in mind that this cost recurs and increases each year and that the cost of Benchmarking I could exceed �6 billion to date. As indicated above, it is doubtful whether Benchmarking I should have been paid in the first instance and there is little to suggest it resulted in any worthwhile improvements in services.

Fourth, it was erroneous for the Higher Remuneration and Benchmarking bodies to confine themselves to comparisons between the domestic private and public sectors. Account should also have been taken of public sector pay patterns in other similar countries where it would be easy to make directly relevant comparisons. This might have helped ensure that, in the interests of international competitiveness, our Taoiseach, TDs and top managers and professionals in the public sector are paid salaries appropriate to a country with a population of four million people.

Subject to the foregoing, Benchmarking II comes across as a far more transparent assessment than it predecessor. It would be a pity if its approach to establishing relativities and comparisons was rejected simply because it did not deliver for the public sector on this occasion.

Lead letter published in the Sunday Business Post on 27th January 2008.

Review Body and Public Pay

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It is clear from the reaction to the recent Report by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration that its approach of comparing public sector salaries with the private sector is inadequate. Why should Irish Secretaries General be paid more than their equivalents in almost every other country? If TD salaries are very high by international standards and linked to those of Principal Officers, what does this say about salaries at middle levels in the Irish public sector?  Buried in the Review Body's report is mention of a recent survey, covering 13 countries, that indicated that the remuneration of office holders in all the countries is WELL BELOW (my emphasis) below that of jobs of comparable weight in the private sector. Why should Ireland be so different?

It will be interesting to see if the current review by the OECD of the Irish public sector will include salary comparisons when it benchmarks the Irish public sector against other comparable countries. If it doesn't do this, how can it hope to assess effectiveness and performance given that pay and pensions account for the bulk of public expenditure.

Aside from Review Body awards and benchmarking, the main driver of politician and public sector pay has been the various national agreements which appear to mainly benefit the public sector. Because these agreements provide percentage increases across the board, workers at the lower end of the scale only receive small monetary increases and the gap between top and bottom salaries gets wider on an exponential basis. Is it any wonder that, notwithstanding the smallness of the State, our political and administrative leaders are, thanks to these percentage increases, amongst the best paid in the world?

For the future, the Review Body must be instructed by the Government to take account of comparable public sector salaries in other EU countries and national agreements should make provision for percentage increases to be applied on a sliding scale so that the lowest paid get the largest percentage increases.

Lead letter published in the Irish Times on 7th November 2008.

Taoiseach's Salary

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How can a prospective salary of €310,000 for the Taoiseach be justified when the UK's Prime Minister only earns €270,000 (€187,611) and the US President gets €281,700 ($400,000) ? Is it any wonder that Ireland is losing its competitiveness and public sector costs are surging when people at the top so blatantly ignore the need for pay restraint.

Letter published in the Irish Times on 30th October 2007.

Benchmarking and the Ambassador

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Following the German Ambassador's remarks about salary levels for senior civil servants and consultants, is there any chance of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector benchmarking Irish salaries against comparable jobs in other countries? The grounds being that if our salary levels at the top are not comparable, there is little prospect of the economy as a whole being competitive.

Letter publsihed in the Irish Times on 24th September 2007.

Benchmarking Data

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The CSO's recently published National Employment Survey found that average public sector pay was 40% ahead of private sector pay back in 2003. As this survey was completed before benchmarking increases averaging 9% started to take effect, the implication is that average pay could now be about 50% higher for the public sector than for private sector. This is on top of secure employment and underfunded, earnings-related pensions.

The survey findings, even after taking account of undoubted differences in education and experience, undermine the first benchmarking exercise which, based on unpublished studies, has already resulted in mutli-billion euro handouts to the public sector.  Will the second benchmarking exercise roll back these unjustified pay increases and restore equity between the public and private sectors or will it just further widen the gap?

Letter published in the Sunday Business Post on 4th June 2006.

Prescription for Pensions

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David Clerkin's piece on pensions (12th March) has highlighted inequities in public and private sector pension arrangements and in the role of the National Pension Reserve Fund.  Tax payers, predominantly in the private sector, are contributing over �2 billion a year in taxes to pensions. Unfortunately, this is not for their own pensions. About half their contributions go to pay "gold-plated" pensions of public servants and politicians, and the balance goes into the National Pension Reserve Fund. 

The following suggestions would put some fairness into national pension arrangements and help resolve the looming pensions crisis:

  1. The next round of benchmarking should take full account of the cost of public sector pensions. In addition, the public sector should progressively introduce self-funded schemes for all its employees.

  2. State organisations with pension deficits, amounting to a billion euro, should be required to sort these out internally and not be baled out by the taxpayer and by raising prices to consumers.

  3. The role of the National Pension Reserve Fund should be clarified as regards the expected distribution between public sector and social welfare pensions. This should take account of the fact that the vast bulk of the payments into the Fund effectively come from private sector workers notwithstanding that the main beneficiaries will be the public sector. Indeed, a fundamental reassessment of this organisation should be conducted on the grounds that the State effectively borrows over a billion euro year to invest in this Fund while it has a deficit in infrastructural funding which is being addressed via expensive and inefficient public-private partnerships.

  4. As TDs and Ministers are amongst the best paid and, probably, best pensioned in the world, they should fund their own pensions over and above a single basic scheme. The sums involved are not large but there is a principle involved and a lead should be given.

This prescription is likely to be painful but, as everyone knows, it is better to start pension planning earlier rather than later. So, before introducing mandatory pensions, the Government should create an equitable starting point.

Letter published in the Sunday Business Post on 19th March 2006.

On 7th March 2006, I made a submission to the Review Body on Higher Remuneration with a copy to Brian Cowan TD, Minister for Finance.

It urged that the Review Body should take account of and publish international comparisons when it devises new salary levels. Here is the submission . And, here is the Review Body Report which made virtually no effort to make any international comparisons.  

TDs are Winning Race to the Top

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The Government is continually emphasising the importance of competitiveness to the social partners as they start negotiations on a new national wage agreement. Are similar exhortations being made to the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Service which has just commenced a major review?

In the past, this Review Body made comparisons with the domestic private sector jobs but this time around it should also consider similar public sector jobs in other comparable economies.

Much of the data required for this work is published on the Internet. But there are gaps. For example, to compare current salaries of British MPs and TDs, copious material can be found on the Westminster website but the Oireachtas website contains no relevant information. For the record and to illustrate the problem, TDs now earn between 2% and 9% more than their UK counterparts notwithstanding that the Dail meets for only about 60% of the sitting time of Westminster and TDs effectively serve only a quarter the number of constituents covered by MPs. Likewise, Irish Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State earn between 1% and 5% more than their UK counterparts notwithstanding that they preside over a country that is no larger than some counties in the UK. Is it any wonder that the Irish information is hard to find.

If broader study confirms that other top-level salaries are also completely uncompetitive, the Review Body must confront the "appalling vista" of salary reductions to maintain competitiveness. Of course, they must take account of our recent economic progress. In doing so, it should also take cognisance of the fact that many key public services - health, law and order, transport and infrastructure - has been so ineptly lead and inefficiently managed that major achievements in other areas have been negated.

When establishment figures speak of international competitiveness, they should practice it. For starters, the Review Body on Higher Remuneration should be instructed to take account of and publish international comparisons when it devises new salary levels. This approach should also apply to the forthcoming benchmarking review. Additionally, the negotiators of the next national wage agreement should review the practice of setting percentage rather than absolute wage increases. This only widens the gap between the top and bottom grades and can result in senior officeholders receiving wage increases as large as average wages earned at the bottom.

A race to the top can be just as destructive for the national interest as the race to the bottom.

Note to Editor: The Irish salary levels were secured from the Oireachtas PR Office. A TD earns between €88,556 and €94,205. Ministers earn €199,044 and Junior Ministers get  €136,771. MPs earn the equivalent of €86,636. UK Cabinet Ministers and Minsters of State get €196,447 and €129,872 respectively (Source: House of Commons Fact Sheets M5 and M6).

Lead letter published in the Irish Times on the 13th February 2006.

Ministerial Gravy Train

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The latest report of the Review Body on public sector pay found that salaries of higher public service groups have fallen out of line with the private sector and  recommended an interim increase of 7.5% pending a full review. As a result, Irish Ministers will earn more than their UK counterparts when parliamentary salaries are included (€195,800 versus �194,900).

How can this be justified when the huge differences between the respective budgets and responsibilities are taken into account and when the ineffectiveness and avoidance of accountability by many of our ministers are considered?

Letter published in the Irish Times on 19th July 2005.

Benchmarking

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Fintan O'Toole omitted to mention benchmarking as a possible addition to his list of public sector "white elephants". It is costing over a billion euro a year and rising in line with future wage increases - about €13 billion over the next ten years. Introduced ahead of the last general election, no evidence has ever been published to justify benchmarking other than a series of innocuous, post-award, self-serving reports. For the same expenditure, we could have employed about ten percent more gardai, teachers, health workers and so on.

Given that there is talk of a new round of benchmarking appearing ahead of the next election, surely there is an urgent need for an independent, transparent review of the basis and benefits achieved to date.

Letter published in the Irish Times on 12th March 2005.

TDs and Benchmarking

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Now that the Dail has resumed sittings, let us have some real performance improvements from the Dail and politicians to justify benchmarking. Some suggestions in no particular order of importance:

1. No double jobbing as TDs are paid to do full-time jobs. Earnings from nixers and consultancy work should be used to reduce Dail salaries.
2. The Dail's annual holidays should be only 4-6 weeks. Normal office hours should apply from Monday to Thursday with Fridays reserved for constituency work and clinics.
3. The number of TDs should be rationalised - one TD per constituency is adequate.
4. All expenses and allowances paid to TDs should be accounted for in the same way as applies to the self-employed.
5. TDs should have the same tax allowances as all other workers or self-employed persons. Tax certificates should be supplied before taking a seat in Dail and every year thereafter. No cert, no seat.
6. Official transport should only be used for official business. Unofficial or party use should be reimbursed to the State.
7. TDs should have the same pension entitlements as most working people and should be eligible for redundancy payments when they lose their seats.
8. The productivity of TDs should be tracked by the quarterly publication of their attendances and speaking records in the Dail and at committees.
9. The Dail's effectiveness should be monitored in terms of sitting days, bills proposed & passed and output of committees.
10. Backbenchers should have greater flexibility in respect of Dail contributions and votes. Free votes should become the norm rather than the exception.
11. If backbenchers cannot become more active and productive in the Dail, their hours of work and pay should be scaled back.
12. There should be greater public accountability of TDs' performances via annual public meetings with constituents.
13. To ensure that TDs have real mandates, elections should be rerun if fewer than 50% of the electorate in their constituencies cast votes.

In return for these implementing changes, the salaries of the remaining TDs should be substantially increased to reflect their enhanced roles. As is often said, change and good example must start at the top!

Lead letter published in the Irish Times on 2nd October 2003. It was also read out on RTE's Morning Ireland and discussed with Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline.

Benchmarking & Productivity

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Benchmarking was an election gimmick and Enda Kenny is correct to call it into question. The cost of benchmarking over the next ten years, at current prices, could be about €13, 000,000,000.  If used productively, these funds would enable us to reduce class sizes, repair leaking roofs, open and fully staff more hospitals, police our streets, reduce traffic congestion, care better for the elderly and lots more.

It is extraordinary that the private sector acquiesced so readily to benchmarking given that at least one month's income tax paid by all private sector workers will, for every year henceforth, be used to fund benchmarking.

Many of the action plans linked to benchmarking merely represent "good management" or "normal progress" and should be done without any reference to benchmarking. They do no relate to labour productivity unless performed by existing staff in addition to their existing tasks.  In the private sector, productivity means higher output for the same input or maintained output from reduced input.

As the justifications for benchmarking awards are, inexplicitly, a State secret and economic conditions have, in any event, rendered them obsolete, we cannot afford any more fudge and we must insist that the same definition of productivity be used by the private and public sectors.

Letter published in the Irish Times on 22nd September 2003. 

Public Sector Productivity

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Your correspondent Ms X (16th September) suggests that the jury is still out on the matter of productivity and benchmarking. She describes, as an example, a commendable action to be taken by the CSO to assess the usefulness of statistical data held in Government Departments. To my thinking, this merely represents "good management" or "normal progress" and should be done without any reference to benchmarking. It is not related to labour productivity unless performed by existing staff in addition to their existing tasks.  In the private sector, productivity means higher output for the same input or maintained output from reduced input.

It is extraordinary that the private sector acquiesced so readily to benchmarking given that at least one month's income tax paid by private sector workers will, for every year henceforth, be used to fund benchmarking.

As the justifications for benchmarking awards are, inexplicitly, a State secret and economic conditions have, in any event, rendered them obsolete, we cannot afford any more fudge and we must insist that the same definition of productivity be used by the private and public sectors. Genuine productivity increases should be rewarded.

Cost of Benchmarking

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I am tired of seeing statements to the effect that the cost of benchmarking is €1 billion or so. It is not a once-off investment as it will recur and grow year-on-year. The cost will be about €25 billion over the next twenty years when inflation and pension increases are taken into account. On this basis, benchmarking will absorb over one-tenth of all income taxes to be collected mainly from the unsheltered, unbenchmarked private sector. Time for a wake-up call?

National Pension Reserve Fund

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I have three queries about the National Pension Reserve Fund which has been set up by the Minister of Finance to help funds social welfare and public sector pensions post 2025. In the light of the State's deteriorating finances, they are extremely pertinent as they impact on every taxpayer and consumer in the State both now and decades to come. 

1. How can further investment in this internationally focused Fund be justified when the State is running a current account deficit and urgently needs funds for infrastructural investment?

Effectively, the State is borrowing money to invest in the Fund. The setting aside of one percent of GNP a year might sound relatively small but it amounts to about a billion euro a year and equates to ONE-TENTH of all income tax to be collected in the current year. If payments into the Fund were to be suspended, we would either pay less income tax (or experience lower tax increases) or the State would need to borrow less.

Currently, the Fund is worth about eight billion euro before allowing for losses incurred in the recent stock market downturns. The short-term performance of the Fund is very dependant on a recovery of world economies and peace in the Middle East. In effect, the Fund is gambling on these two matters and any further investment could amount to "bottom fishing". Given our difficult and uncertain economic prospects, the question of continued payments into the Fund should be reviewed even if a notional "killing" could be made if and when stock markets should ever recover to last year's levels.

2. Given that the purpose of the Fund is to accumulate reserves to contribute to future pensions for social welfare recipients and public servants, what is the planned split?

The Fund was set up to help fund social welfare and public sector pensions post 2025 on the basis that our aging population will have great difficulty in meeting its pension liabilities at that time. The Fund's legislation provides for periodic assessments of  the projected profile of Exchequer outlays on social welfare and public sector pensions. 

I don't know what these outlays will be in the future. As a guide, projected expenditure for 2002 on non-contributory social welfare pensions is about half a billion euro and further billion euro is being spent on public sector pensions. In addition, two and a half billion plus euros will be paid out by the contributory Social Insurance Fund for old age, retirement and widows pensions.

It would be desirable to clarify at this stage whether the Pensions Fund will only help finance non-contributory social welfare and public sector pensions or whether it will also support the self-funded Social Insurance Fund. If it does not, then the prime purpose of the Fund would appear to be to boost public sector pensions.

3. How equitable will the planned split be bearing in mind the mix of contributors?

Presently, social welfare pensions are, more or less, subsistence-level pensions. In contrast public sector pensions are much more beneficial as, in the main, they offer guaranteed benefits.

For many years, there has been a debate about the true actuarial cost of providing guaranteed benefits to public servants. As I understand the situation, it would be virtually impossible to purchase these benefits in the open market especially as they are linked to prevailing wage levels and not simply to cost-of-living increases.

In recent years, we have seen a reduction in the availability of defined-benefit pensions schemes in the private sector in favour of defined-contribution schemes. This is partly due to the falls in stock markets but it is also related to the fact that funding a defined-benefit pension scheme is very, very expensive. To compound the problem, defined-contribution schemes have been hammered by the decline in the stock market.  In contrast, public sector pensions are, in the main, financed from Exchequer revenues (i.e. taxpayers) and they do not have to contend with "real world" volatility and uncertainty. Finally, it should also be bourne in mind that a substantial proportion of people  working in the private sector have no pension schemes of any description but are obliged to help fund very attractive public sector pensions.

Allowing for the fact that ALL taxpayers and consumers are contributing to the Fund, how can we be certain that the Fund will not end up funding exceptional pensions for a minority of the contributors while the vast majority of contributors stand to derive very limited benefits? Surely, it should be ordained that all sectors should benefit from the Fund in line with their contributions.

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