1/03/2011

Government Shakedown Of Private Pensions

The Adam Smith Institute Blog
European nations begin seizing private pensions
Hungary, Poland, and three other nations take over citizens' pension money to make up government budget shortfalls.
By Jan Iwanik, Guest blogger / January 2, 2011

People’s retirement savings are a convenient source of revenue for governments that don’t want to reduce spending or make privatizations. As most pension schemes in Europe are organised by the state, European ministers of finance have a facilitated access to the savings accumulated there, and it is only logical that they try to get a hold of this money for their own ends. In recent weeks I have noted five such attempts: Three situations concern private personal savings; two others refer to national funds.

The most striking example is Hungary, where last month the government made the citizens an offer they could not refuse. They could either remit their individual retirement savings to the state, or lose the right to the basic state pension (but still have an obligation to pay contributions for it). In this extortionate way, the government wants to gain control over $14bn of individual retirement savings.

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