Re­tire­ment re­view not funny: re­port

Waikato Times - - BUSINESS - SU­SAN ED­MUNDS

The ‘‘jokey’’ ap­proach taken by the Re­tire­ment Com­mis­sioner in her re­view of re­tire­ment in­come pol­icy last year has been crit­i­cised in a new re­port.

Among Diane Maxwell’s rec­om­men­da­tions were a call to in­crease the min­i­mum Ki­wiSaver con­tri­bu­tion, raise the pen­sion age and re­quire peo­ple to live in New Zealand for longer be­fore they could claim state su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

But a new re­port from Michael Cham­ber­lain, co-founder of Ki­wiSaver provider Su­per­life, and Michael Lit­tle­wood, co-founder of the Re­tire­ment Pol­icy and Re­search Cen­tre, said she had missed an op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘The find­ings were cloaked in a jokey, car­toon-like [on­line] pre­sen­ta­tion … and amounted to 34 rec­om­men­da­tions and ob­ser­va­tions with lit­tle to no sup­port­ing ev­i­dence for nearly all of them.’’

They said Maxwell seemed set on strength­en­ing Ki­wiSaver, but had not asked whether the scheme was work­ing.

Cham­ber­lain and Lit­tle­wood said tax­pay­ers had spent $8.5 bil­lion on Ki­wiSaver tax breaks and an­other $740 mil­lion would be spent this year.

‘‘Trea­sury re­ports be­fore Ki­wiSaver started sug­gested that New Zealan­ders were prob­a­bly slightly over-sav­ing for re­tire­ment,’’ they wrote.

‘‘Sub­se­quent Trea­sury re­ports sug­gest that Ki­wiSaver hasn’t made much difference to house­holds’ fi­nan­cial be­hav­iour so why do tax­pay­ers con­tinue to spend large sums sub­si­dis­ing Ki­wiSaver?’’

They said that cit­ing the num­ber of mem­bers did not prove Ki­wiSaver was work­ing.

They also called for the New Zealand Su­per­an­nu­a­tion Fund, which was set up to in­vest to pro­vide money to pay for the govern­ment pen­sion in fu­ture, to be dis­banded, its as­sets sold and the pro­ceeds used to pay off debt.

But Maxwell de­fended her re­view and the style in which it was con­ducted.

‘‘The end re­sult of the re­view, an on­line in­ter­ac­tive por­tal, didn’t look like a re­port,’’ she said.

‘‘In re­al­ity, it con­tained more data, anal­y­sis and sub­mis­sions than pre­vi­ous re­ports but some stake­hold­ers found the form chal­leng­ing. Some re­sis­tance to the ap­proach stemmed from the view that if the pub­lic be­came more in­formed it would un­der­mine the role and sta­tus of those work­ing in this space.’’

She re­jected Cham­ber­lain Lit­tle­wood’s sug­ges­tions.

‘‘I do not be­lieve it is a good use of tax­pay­ers’ money to in­vest time and re­sources ask­ing if Ki­wiSaver should ex­ist. Over 2.7 mil­lion Ki­wis have over $40 bil­lion in funds un­der man­age­ment. It’s here,’’ she said.

‘‘Across 2016 we spoke to and heard from thou­sands of New Zealan­ders … The al­ter­na­tive is to sit in a room look­ing at spread­sheets, talk­ing to peo­ple just like our­selves.’’

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Diane Maxwell

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