I'm amazed sometimes by the assumption of the complete imbecility that Fianna Fail regard the Irish electorate with. (Though of course, if you're an Eddie Hobbs fan, you'll be unsurprised to see how many people simply swallow the blatant lies of FF hook, line and sinker). Today Seamus Brennan came out with incredible bullshit about pensions. He is unhappy at the fact that 900,000 workers have no pension provision for the future and says that "the Government could not just do nothing about this situation." Incredible, when you realise that this government effectively handed the carte blanche to employers 2 years ago when they ended the requirement of "meaningful contributions" from the employer in order for the state to recognise pension schemes. This was a quiet piece of small print in the introduction of the disastrous PRSAs, which were intended to create "budget" pensions for less well off workers. Previously a pension scheme was only recognised as long as the employer contributed: but once PRSAs were introduced employers had to have a PRSA or complany scheme, but now the employer can contribute sweet fuck all (to pardon my french) and still have the scheme recognised. In fact workers at one insurance company in Dublin city have now been told that the scheme which they were members of, where previously the employer contributed 5% without any funding requirement from the employee will now get the royal sum of 0% from the employer, with the employee having to contribute the entire amount. In other words, this employer is now allowed to wash its hands entirely of any funding requirement.
Not only that, but in the old schemes it was also common for employers to at least cover the annual fees for the pension. Not anymore. The PRSA is allowed to charge 1% - which seems very little, but its a lot more than the 0% I have to pay as part of my company scheme, which isn't especially special, but 1% for me would take as much as 50 euros a year out of my scheme. This is on top of the fact that I have no guarantee that my pension won't just fall through the floor, as many private pensions did - entirely unreported by the mejia of course - in the late 1990s.
Unsurprisingly, the public have been very Eddie Hobbish on this piece of crap value for money from the government: the vast majority of PRSAs seem to have been opened as top-up pensions (or basically tax breaks) for high earners (many with second pensions and probably nice little investment portfolios also). The problem of compulsory provision is twofold: firstly, there is a sizeable number of workers who don't work consistently, don't work enough hours, or earn too little to be able to pay into a pension, and secondly, many migrant workers simply don't need one. In the UK it is possible to claim back some of your NI payments if you leave the UK as you won't be claiming a pension, but there will probably be no such provision in Ireland (even now there is none for those who have contributed something, but not enough to get anything back).
I'll be writing to Enda to see what FG think of the plans.