Icelandic public must bail out indebted public sector pension fund

Icelandic tax payers are set to bear the heavy burden of recapitalising the government employees’ pension fund (LSR). Billions of extra krónur are needed by the fund over the coming decades so it can stand up to its responsibilities.

The general rule in Iceland when pension funds lose money is either that lower pension payments to members will follow in the future, or that  higher employee contributions are demanded in the present to close the gap; but there are exceptions, as the LSR case demonstrates.

RÚV reports that LSR is a state-guaranteed pension fund, meaning that if it loses money the taxpayer will bear the cost of replacing it. According to a report into the pension funds, LSR lost around ISK 100 billion (EUR 621.3 million) in the financial crash and the State has not helped the situation – having not always paid its employer’s contribution to the fund as it should.

The pension fund has a massive shortfall, according to economist Ólafur Ísleifsson in a new article for a political studies magazine. He declares that the bill will fall on the Icelandic public to pay back, and a parliamentary answer from the Minister of Finance backs this up: LSR needs around ISK 7.8 billion (EUR 48.4 million) per year for the next 40 years in order to get back up to zero.

There are many indications that LSR’s losses could have been much smaller if its managers had been more careful, the research report into the pension funds states.

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