National Pension Reserve Fund should now be revived, says Brian Hayes

Dublin MEP has praised Charlie McCreevy for having the foresight to set up fund

 

A senior Fine Gael figure has said it is time for Irish political parties to think about reviving Charlie McCreevy’s National Pension Reserve Fund.

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes has said the fund was one of the good ideas of Mr McCreevy, the former minister for finance in Fianna Fáil governments led by Bertie Ahern. It began operating in 2001.

Speaking at the Irish Association of Pension Funds annual dinner in Dublin, Mr Hayes said now that the economy was in recovery mode it was time for all politicians to have a serious think about reviving the fund.

Taxpayers paid a levy into the fund (NPRF) which was established to allow the State build up a war chest of funds. This was to deal with the greatly increased demand for pensions that is anticipated in mid-century as the population grows older.

The NPRF’s asset base had increased to over €22 billion in 2009. However, following the economic and banking collapse, its assets have been diverted as successive governments raided it to fund programmes or help meet the State’s fiscal commitments during the crisis.

The €7 billion remaining in the fund has been earmarked for the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund since December 2014. That fund will invest in large capital and commercial projects which will be of strategic benefit.

Downturn

In rare praise from a Fine Gael politician, Mr Hayes said the creation of the NPRF was a good idea. “The former minister for finance Charlie McCreevy deserves great credit for establishing the fund.

“Unfortunately as the crisis deepened it became necessary to raid the fund to shore up government finances. A debate is now opening up regarding tax cuts, increases in public sector wages and increased spending on public services. Providing for future pensions has to be part of that debate.”