Controversial pension reform adopted by the Polish parliament last Friday (25 March) has met with criticism from employers' federations and business circles. EURACTIV Poland reports.
The pension reform, adopted by the lower house of the Polish parliament, slashes from 7.3% to 2.3% the proportion of an individual's salary that can be paid into private pension funds.
The 5% difference will be paid into Poland's national social security scheme, or ZUS.
The reform was passed by 237-154 votes amid 40 abstentions.
The government has said the move is crucial to enable the state to keep paying out pensions from the indebted ZUS scheme's coffers, thus reducing pressure on the state budget.
The reform will save the state 195 billion zloty (48 billion euros) by 2020, according to the government.
The law must still be approved by the Senate and signed off by President Bronislaw Komorowski, a key ally of Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The government hopes to have it in force by 1 May.
Last reformed in 1999, Poland's pension system is divided into three pillars, two of which are compulsory and one optional. The first pillar, run by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), is based on the pay-as-you-go system — a type of 'contract between generations'. This means that pensions paid out by ZUS are financed from contributions made by employees.
The second pillar is the open pension fund (OFE) chosen by employees, which invests funds transferred to it by ZUS every month from the contribution to the first component of the pension system.
Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski said he expected financial markets to react positively to the proposed changes to open pension funds.
"There will be no change as far as the funds currently held by open pension funds are concerned," Rostowski is quoted by Rzeczpospolita daily as saying.
In Hungary, the government has nationalised its pre-funded pension schemes in a bid to slash the budget deficit (see 'Background'). But Rotowski insisted the situation was different there.
"The government only plans to change the way in which new contributions will be divided between OFEs, personal accounts in ZUS, and new personal accounts in ZUS. Consequently, this situation is completely different than in Hungary," Rostowski said.
Rostowski said he was convinced that markets would react positively because the government would accelerate the consolidation of public finances.
"These measures, plus what we have already done in the budget, will make sure that as early as this year the public finance deficit will be about a third lower than last year, and next year it will be at least half that recorded in 2010," Rostowski said.