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Govt pressured to fully fund Retirement Commissioner

The future of the Office of the Retirement Commissioner will be decided in this year's budget.

Thursday, March 29th 2001, 6:47AM

by Philip Macalister

Pressure is being put on the Government to fully fund the Office of the Retirement Commissioner's office

Currently the only funding the office receives is from the Government.

When the office was originally established the former National government heavied the industry into providing a significant amount of the office's budget. At that stage 10 companies, each provided $100,000 annually which equated to about 25% of the overall budget.

However, the number of private sector funders has fallen to just four (BNZ, Tower, Royal & SunAlliance and the NZ Stock Exchange) last year, and since July 1 the office has had no private sector funding.

This has limited the amount of the work the office can do and also has provided administrative problems.

For instance the office has had to devote resources to fundraising and managing the funders.

The office's success in promoting the need to save message is one of the reasons for declining public sector funding.

Private sector organisations say their reduced contributions are in no way a sign of dissatisfaction with the quality and impact of the office's programmes.

Rather the office's success in increasing public awareness is the equivalent of turning on the tap for funds flow. Now the private sector want to put their individual buckets under the tap.

That is they are investing more in marketing their own savings products and developing their own education programmes, and less in the office's generic programme.

Investment Savings and Insurance Association chief executive Vance Arkinstall says the ISI has "attempted to encourage Government to accept greater responsibility for the funding of the ORC."

"We will not know until the budget is released how successful this has been," he says. "But I wouldn't hold my breath."

Papers released under the Official Information Act show the issue is being considered. However they also show that a request for an extra $750,000 "to replace steadily declining private sector revenue" was declined as the Government had higher priorities.

How successful do you think the Retirement Commissioner has been? Do you think the Government should fully fund the office or should the private sector put money into it?

Have your say in this important issue in the Online Forum section. Click here to make a contribution.

You can read Philip's blog here: http://www.goodreturns.co.nz/blog/

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