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Experts now wanted as guardians

Wanted: About half a dozen people to guard billions of taxpayers' dollars.

Thursday, December 20th 2001, 12:05PM

by Philip Macalister

The Government has now officially started looking for people to be 'Guardians' of its multi-billion New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

The so-called guardians are essentially the board which will run the fund, that is being established to help pay for some of the future costs of the state pension.

Finance minister Michael Cullen earlier said that the guardians would be a group of people which represent New Zealand society. He envisaged this group would include investment professionals as well as people representing the elderly (eg: Grey Power/Age Concern), workers (unions) etc.

However, a spokesman from his office says that that idea "has gone by the wayside."

The criteria now is that a guardian has to have "financial expertise".

An independent committee, which is chaired by Investment Savings and Insurance Association chief executive Vance Arkinstall, is charged with making nominating people to be guardians. The appointments are then made by Cullen. (Other people on the nominating committee are former Colonial First State Investment chief executive Bruce Abraham, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu ceo Sid Ashton, New Zealand Businesses for Social Responsibility executive director Annette Lusk, and financial planner Rodger Spiller).

Cullen can only appoint people as Guardians if they have been nominated by the committee. However, he can indicate to the committee people they should consider including in their list.

Arkinstall says Cullen has made no indications of who he would like to see nominated.

Cullen says he hopes to be able to name the guardians of the fund by February.

The fund stared on July 1 this year and each fortnight the Government makes a payment of about $23 million. In this financial year it is planning to put $600 million into the fund and these contributions are set to rise to $2 billion.

Currently the money is paid into an account that is managed by Treasury's Debt Management Office and the money is invested in the money market.

However, once the guardians are appointed they will have to develop an appropriate investment strategy for the fund that meets its mandated goals.

Assuming the fund is invested in the same manner as the Government Superannuation Fund (the fund used to pay state employees' pensions) about half of the fund will be invested in international shares (evenly split between active and passive), 14% in New Zealand shares and the balance in fixed interest.

A recruitment agency is currently running newspaper advertisements looking for non-executive directors for Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The board will have between 5 and 7 directors including a chairman and deputy chairman.

« Act at sixes and sevens on superAMP & Good Returns launch superannuation website »

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