Poland's lower house to proceed with legislative works on pension system reform
December 4, 2013
Labor Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz
The Polish government has pushed its OFE open pension fund system reform bill past the first legislative hurdle, with the lower house of parliament rejecting a motion to discard the bill after the first reading.
Of 421 MPs present, 257 voted against discarding the bill, 49 voted in favor and 115 abstained.
The bill will now go to the public finance committee, which will consider it yet during the current lower house sitting, the Speaker Ewa Kopacz said.
The second reading of the bill in the lower house is slated for December 5, while the third reading and the final vote - for December 6.
Changes in the OFE system were announced by PM Donald Tusk on September 4. Under the reform the OFE funds' fixed income portfolio (51.5 percent of all their net assets under management) will be shifted to the national social insurer ZUS on February 3, 2014. OFEs will also be banned from investing in Treasuries and Treasury-guaranteed fixed income securities but will have more freedom to invest in equities and municipal and corporate bonds.
Labor Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said Tuesday in the Sejm that the OFE system reform will not affect future pensioners,
"No OFE member will lose out on this change. The amounts transferred from OFE to ZUS will not be below their value on September 3, 2013", Kosiniak-Kamysz told the house. He added that the transferred assets will be indexed annually as to date.
Kosiniak-Kamysz said that the government was not planning to abolish the OFE funds but wanted to make membership in them optional. After the reform OFE premiums will equal 2.92% of the gross wage, also OFE operational fees will be brought down by half from the present 3.5%.
The bill is expected to come into force as of January 31, 2014.
Meanwhile a Tuesday CBOS survey found that 53% of Poles criticize government-proposed changes to the pension system and only 13% assess them positively.
CBOS said that public discussion on planned changes to OFE from July to November cut the number of people unaware of government plans from 29% to 13%.
At the same time the number of critics of the plans increased by 13% while the number of advocates went up by 4%. Some 67% of critics of the plan were people aged 35 to 44, or most of those paying premiums to OFEs.