ANC-dubbelpratery skep verwarring oor beleid rakende pensioenfondse

2015-09-15
Adv Anton Alberts

Gaan die ANC nou pensioenfondse teiken, of is dit ten minste voorlopig steeds veilig? Dit is die vraag wat ontstaan nadat ANC-dubbelpratery oor die aangeleentheid, soos in talle ander gevalle, tot groot onsekerheid oor belangrike beleidsake lei, sê adv. Anton Alberts, die VF Plus se parlementêre woordvoerder oor finansies.

In sy antwoord op ʼn parlementêre vraag van adv. Alberts oor pensioene, sê die minister van finansies, Nhlanhla Nene, onder meer hy ‘oorweeg geen planne wat aan private of openbare pensioenfondse sal voorskryf’hoe om hul geld te belê nie.

Dit is in skerp teenstelling met die onlangse uitlatings van Paul Mashitile, ANC-voorsiter in Gauteng, dat die ANC met sy volgende algemene raadsvergadering in Oktober vanjaar na maniere sal kyk om werkers meer te ‘bemagtig’ deur aan te dui hoe en waar hul pensioengeld belê moet word. Volgens Mashatile is dit ʼn poging om Suid-Afrika se ekonomie te ‘transformeer’.

Adv. Alberts se parlementêre vraag aan Nene lui:

“Word enige plan oorweeg om private en openbare pensioenfondse te dwing om meer geld in ontwikkelingsprojekte te belê? Indien nie, sal dit in die toekoms oorweeg word, en indien wel, wat word beplan?”

Nene antwoord dat hy nie sulke planne oorweeg nie, en dat dit belangrik is om daarop te let dat dit die taak van ʼn pensioenfonds se trustees is om op ʼn beleggings-strategie te besluit in oorweging van alle faktore in die belang van langtermyn-groei.

Hy sê voorts al wat die regering doen, is om ʼn ‘breë raamwerk’ te verskaf om risiko’s vir die fondse te verminder en sodoende sy lede te beskerm.

Hy weerspreek homself dan deur te erken dat daar wel regulasies in plek is wat fondse ‘verplig’ om beleggings in ontwikkelingsprojekte rakende infrastruktuur te ‘oorweeg”. (Die volledige antwoord word hiernaas geplaas).

Adv. Alberts sê die ‘verpligting’ wat oënskynlik aan die fondse se ‘oorweging’ oorgelaat word, is eweneens verwarend en die vraag kan gevra word hoe openlik die minister se antwoord is, en in hoe ʼn mate dit die groei van die fondse demp.

“Hierdie verwarring, wat ʼn kenmerk van ANC-beleid veral oor die ekonomie geword het, is uiters skadelik, veral gesien teen die agtergrond van die verwoesting van Transnet se twee fondse.

“Die ANC het Suid-Afrika die afgelope 21 jaar tot op die rand van ekonomiese ineenstorting ‘getransformeer’. Ons ekonomie huiwer op die rand van rommelstatus. Die staat se geld raak op, en die VF Plus het geen twyfel nie dat pensioene wel stewig in die ANC se visier is,” sê adv. Alberts.

 

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NUMBER: 2784 [NW3052E]

DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07 August 2015

 

2784. Adv A de W Alberts (FF Plus) to ask the Minister of Finance:†

Whether he is considering any plans whereby private and public pension funds will be compelled to invest more money in development projects; if not, whether any consideration will be given to this in the future; if so, what are the relevant details? NW3052E

REPLY:

No, I am not considering any plans whereby we compel private or public pension funds how to invest. The key point to note is that it is the trustees of a pension fund who have to determine the investment strategy for a pension fund, taking into account its assets and liabilities, and the need for long-term growth. All that government does is to provide a broad framework to protect members of retirement funds, by reducing risks to their funds, like concentration risks when investing (refer to maximum investment limits in Regulation 28 of the Pension Funds Act (1956)), poor governance practices or high and opaque charges.

Since 2011 when Regulation 28 was revised, trustees of retirement funds now have to consider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles before determining their investment policies and strategies. The principle is meant to encourage retirement funds to actively consider investments that might be of a developmental or infrastructural nature, without compromising returns in the long-term. Indeed, in the aggregate, retirement funds already have significant exposure to Government and State Owned Companies’ bonds, which, by their nature are developmental. In 2014, for example, 32 percent of Government issued bonds, excluding state owned company bonds, were held by local retirement funds (Budget Review 2015). Furthermore, according to the South African Reserve Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin March 2015, about 37.1 percent of total retirement fund assets are invested in public sector bonds (Government, state companies, and local government).

The nature of retirement funds means that they should invest for the long term. This implies that they do not necessarily have to be compelled to realise this long term objective to provide decent retirement savings for their members. Further, retirement funds, through their trustees, are in the best position to assess the retirement needs of their members and to decide how best to achieve this through various investment and asset-liability matching approaches. The National Treasury is also engaging with various stakeholders to unlock any funding bottlenecks for infrastructure projects and enable an environment which will facilitate more investment in public infrastructure.