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Reform plans hit snag

Government plans to quickly remove some of the red tape around employer based superannuation schemes appear to have hit a Parliamentary snag.

Thursday, January 23rd 2003, 10:40PM

by Rob Hosking

The government had intended to include some of the easier measures in the annual Business Law Reform Bill. The bill is a regular, omnibus "tidy-up" piece of legislation, which provides MPs with the chance to pass a number of small measures in one legislative "hit".

However the bill requires the consent of all political parties. A spokesman for Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel told Good Returns yesterday that there was a problem with the provisions around the superannuation proposals, as "one of the opposition parties" has raised objections.

The spokesman would not reveal which party has raised the issues, but said that the MPs of that party would be offered a briefing from officials and this may change their mind.

It is understood that New Zealand First is the party that is unhappy with the proposals as they stand. However, attempts to get a comment from the party yesterday afternoon were not successful.

The compliance costs associated with running employer-based superannuation schemes have been identified, since the mid-1990s, as one of the reasons such schemes have languished. The costs include the rules on issuing a prospectus, ongoing administrative costs, and the burden of restructuring funds when the employer itself restructures.

Officials from both the Treasury and the Inland Revenue Department last year told ministers that the red tape around workplace savings programmes was one of the main hurdles preventing employers offering salary packages which include a savings component.

The government has committed itself to encouraging employer-based savings – and has dipped its own toe in the water with its primary teachers’ scheme – but firm proposals have yet to be seen.

The Securities Commission also opposes the removal of prospectus requirements from registered superannuation schemes.

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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