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Pension savings funds object to PM’s remarks

PRIME Minister Robert Fico’s statement last week that if private pension savings funds were not prevented from investing deposits in “risky ventures”, the country would face “further pyramid schemes”, has drawn strong protests from the pension funds.

The Association of Pension Savings Administrators called Fico’s words “misleading and untrue”, and warned that they could create uncertainty among the 1.5 million people who are saving for their pensions in private accounts as part of the previous government’s reform of the pension system.

The association said that pension funds in Slovakia are under five levels of independent supervision, including by the central bank and independent auditors, which rules out the possibility of irresponsible or reckless investment of pension savings.

Deposits are also guaranteed by the Socialná Poisťovňa state insurance company.

Before last June’s general elections, Fico promised to cancel the second, or ‘capitalization’ pillar of pension savings introduced by the 2002-2006 Dzurinda government, but after forming the government apparently dropped the plan due to the popularity of the pension reform and the practical difficulties involved in scrapping a savings system with 1.5 million depositors.

Political scientist Grigorij Mesežnikov said he believed that Fico was now trying “to create the impression that the previous government did not have the interests of citizens in mind, but was just trying to give business groups a chance to make a profit.

“If he can’t cancel the system, he can still at least criticize it,” the analyst said.

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