Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

281 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance the plans the Government has to amend legislation or regulations to enable public servants having 40 years' pensionable service to retire with full pension rights without attaining the age of 60 years. [7948/01]

As the Deputy may be aware, the minimum retirement age for the generality of public servants is 60 years. Claims for a reduction in that age have traditionally been rejected on a number of grounds, including (a) the cost of such a reduction, (b) the fact that 60 years has been the norm in the public service for well over a century, (c) that 65 years is the normal minimum retiring age in the private sector and (d) that the trend in European administrations is to increase rather than reduce retiring ages.

However, all aspects of public service pensions, including retirement age, were considered by the Commission on Public Service Pensions. The report of the commission was published on 31 January 2001. While the commission did not recommend any reduction in the retirement age, it did make some recommendations regarding retirement before the age of 60 years in particular circumstances. Among its recommendations were (i) the introduction of cost neutral early retirement for public servants aged 50 years and over; (ii) the introduction of retirement provisions which would be available at an individual-group level to cater for organisational restructurings, reductions in staff numbers and as part of new performance management systems to be introduced in the public service and (iii) a scheme of approved early retirement which could be avail able to serving public servants aged 55 years or over with 20 years or more service, who feel that they are unable to make a fully satisfactory contribution and where management accepts that their early retirement would improve the general level of efficiency and effectiveness in the service in question.
As indicated at the time of publication, the Government intends to make formal decisions on the commission's recommendations once it has had an opportunity to consider the report in detail. I am of the view that the commission's recommendations represent an integrated and cohesive long-term strategy for public service pensions, and that in implementing this strategy it would be important to preserve the integrity of the package of measures as a whole. I expect that this element will be a significant consideration in deciding the Government's response to the commission's report.
The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness provides that a working group of the public service unions, relevant Government Departments and other appropriate bodies is to be established following Government consideration of the report of the commission to advise on the implementation of the relevant Government decisions with a view to introducing, as quickly as possible, any proposed changes in public service pension arrangements, including those for low paid workers. As indicated at the time of publication of the report, the Government will move to establish that working group when it has made its decisions on the commission's recommendations.

Bernard Allen

Question:

282 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Finance the reason tax has been deducted from a pension being paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and the reason that pension is not tax free as it was funded from his own resources. [7949/01]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the inspector of taxes does not have any information about the taxpayer's pension. The inspector has sent the taxpayer a duplicate return of income form for the 1999-2000 tax year. The taxpayer should complete the form and return it to the tax office together with details of his pension. The inspector will then be in a position to determine whether tax should be deducted from the taxpayer's pension.