An Actual Pension System Of Mauritius Accounting Essay

Category: Accounting

Mauritius is one of the most diverse pension system around the world. In fact, it has all the pillars which are set up under the World Bank starting with the financial aspects to the non-financial aspects. However, the most distinguishing feature of the country is its ability to provide a non-contributory universal pension scheme.

The non-financial aspects can be the advantages and facilities offered by the formal and informal system which are given to the pensioners or future- pensioners in terms of services. The examples of non-financial aspects facilities given by the CPF is to provide home ownership, pre-retirement investments, life, home and health insurance and others like loans for tertiary education.

In this section, the Mauritian pension system has been divided into the World Bank Pension System Conceptual Framework. That is, the Mauritian pension system will be segmented into non-contributory, contributory, and voluntary schemes.

3.1.1 Actual Pension System of Mauritius

Non-contributory schemes available are presently Basic Pensions and the Public Service pension (known as Civil Service Pension Scheme) and the Statutory Bodies Pension Fund. The contributory schemes involve mainly the National Pension Fund (NPF), National Saving Fund (NSF). The voluntary schemes involve pension schemes set up by insurers or employers (Personal pension schemes), the Sugar Industry Pension Fund (which is managed by a Board, under Section 19 of Sugar Industry Pension Fund Act) and Individual savings.

Concerning the last pillar which is basically a non financial pillar, in Mauritius, there is the Health and Housing policy which are available to pensioners and members of a contributory fund.

3.2 Components of Mauritian Pension System

3.2.1 Basic Pensions

Basic Pensions are generally financed from general taxes and are accounted in the government's statement of Expenditure of the Consolidated Fund [1] . Examples of basic pensions are the Basic Retirement, Basic Widows, and Basic Invalid pensions.

3.2.2 National Pension Fund

The NPF is a compulsory defined benefit scheme, which has been created in 1978 and ruled under the National Pension Act 1976. The need to maximize return, need for security, need for liquidity, and need for national development are the four investment objectives that the Investment Committee is trying to balance.

The standard contribution rate is set up at 9% of earnings, employers- 6%, employees-3%. However, most employees in the sugar industry have their contribution rate valued at 13.5%, employer-10.5% and employee-3%. It is important to highlight that public servants and every low income earners are excluded from the mandatory contribution, which means that they do not receive contributory and injury pensions granted to members of NPF only. The pay-out benefits will depend on the points which have been accumulated through-out the years until retirement.

3.2.3 National Saving Fund

NSF, on the other hand is a defined contribution scheme (contributed by the employer) whereby at retirement, a lump sum is paid to the retired member of NSF. Previously known as the Employee Welfare Fund, it is set up under the National Saving Fund Act 1995. The contribution rate is actually amounted to 2.5% of the employee's income which is solely contributed by the employer. As compared to NPF, civil servants are included in this scheme.

One of the main criticisms related to NPF and NSF is that they investment made is not enough diversified. For example, for NPF/NSF 2011, investment in local government bonds has amounted to 63.2% and 80.7% out of the total portfolio which obviously is beyond reasonable [2] .

3.2.4 Statutory Bodies Pension Fund and Civil Service Pension Scheme

The pension schemes under Statutory Bodies Pension fund Act 1978 are required to be administered by SICOM (State Insurance Corporation of Mauritius). This scheme is on the transition process towards a contributory scheme. Based on Statutory Bodies Pension Fund Act, officers [3] who are appointed on or after 1 July 2008 have to contribute to the scheme.

Civil Service Pension Scheme has been revealed to be "overly generous" by the World Bank. "The replacement rate of a private sector worker will have a replacement rate of 53, a civil servant will receive a replacement rate of 87( 20 from BRP)" World Bank (June 30, 2004). The expenditure on CSPS amounted at Rs 710 m in 1998, increased to Rs 788 m in 1999, Rs 889 m in 2000. In 2001, the expenditure increased by almost 37%; 2006/2007's CSPS expenditure grew by around 12 % amounted to around Rs 354 m; 2010/2011's costs increased by Rs 113 m.

3.2.5 Pension Schemes, set up by insurers or any other authorized companies

Pension Schemes, set up by insurers, any other authorized companies or employers need the approval and supervision of one of these institutions: the Registrar of Association under the Employees Superannuation Fund Act 1954; the Mauritius Revenue Authority under Income Tax Regulations 1996; and the Financial Services Commission under the Financial Services Act and the Trusts Act. The private pension sector has actually of around 1500 schemes under MRA, about 50 under Registrar of Association and around 15 under the Trusts Act.

However, it is important to note that a Private Pension Act is currently under negotiation. According to Aon Hewitt, one of the important advisory firms in pension system in Mauritius, there will be several benefits to the new enactment to come. Amongst others, the regulatory objectives will be maintained in a fair, safe, and efficient way; promote confidence; and fair treatment to beneficiaries.

3.2.6 Sugar Industry Pension Fund

Accordingly to the Sugar Industry Pension Fund Act, which is basically a defined contributory scheme (contribution rate out of the employee salary), there are several conditions to be able to becomes members of this scheme. Amongst others, the conditions are:

-The need that the employer is being directly related with the process of sugar industry as per the act.

-The employee should not be listed in the enactment section 4 (3)

3.3 Challenges ahead

From a seminar on 22nd August 2012, "Implications of the new private pension scheme legislation", undertaken by the Swan Group, it has been indentified 4 important challenges that the pension industry in Mauritius is actually facing:

1) Increasing Life Expectancy. In fact, life expectancy is increasing all over the world, not only in Mauritius. However, the core problems is the increasing gap between the retirement age and life expectancy of the individual, where-by the inability to forecast, with some degree of accuracy, the life expectancy of a specific individual

2) Lack of interest from younger people to invest for the future. That is they prefer to spend more for the current benefits.

3) There is a belief that the employer will provide the pension (which may not be the case)

4) Lack of willingness to understand the pension system; how it works and so on.

3.4 Basic Retirement Pension (BRP)

Since the research methodology that will be based on accessing BRP, it will be worthwhile to how an overview the BRP in Mauritius.

3.4.1 History

In 1950-1958, policymakers were looking to reducing their fiscal costs. They have introduced an individual income test excluding 20-25%, relative to the universal system. The means test at that time was going to be harsher whereby informal sector (like potential support from daughters and sons) were taken into account. Honest citizens, at that time, were shocked to see that they had their pensions reduced. They quickly learned to disclose information to avoid the cut-off on their pension. In 1958, the testing was abolished and the system returned back to universality.

In 1965-1976, for the second time, a mild income test was introduced. The process is about filing and paying tax disqualifies people to obtain their pension support from the government. The system was not as intrusive and there were not so much corruption as the previous one. However, the problem was that the incentives to disclose or distorting information had not been resolved.

For the third time, on August 2004, an income test on BRP was imposed. In this one, pensioners (< 90 Yrs old) with annual income greater than Rs 208,000 had their pensions reduced by 50%*1/12 of the excess amount which was above Rs 208,000. However, the party at that time lost the national elections of July 2005, and the new government eliminated the targeted approach again back to the universal system.

In 2008, the government has introduced a general gradual increase in retirement to 65 years old . However, for BRP the eligible retirement age has been affixed to 60 years.

3.4.2 Eligibility

The general eligibility requirements to have access to the BRP are:

Every Mauritian Citizen aged 60 or above;

The person should have resided in Mauritius for an aggregate of 12 years ( on or after its 18 years old)

The residence qualification does not apply to Mauritian citizen aged over 70 or over.

Non-citizens must have resided in Mauritius for at least 15 years on average(on or after its 40 years old)

Those who are eligible to BRP as at 2013, the amount as at 2012 has been adjusted to compensate for the increase in cost od living. According to the budget 2013, "As from January 2013, the monthly BRP will go up to 3,494 rupees for the pensioners aged 60 to 89

years, to 10,404 rupees for those aged 90 to 99 years and to 11,807 rupees for centenarians."

This represents on average an increase of 4.3%.

3.4.3 Payable Amount

Once eligible, the amount receivable would be as per the budget indicates.

For the budget 2013, the amount payable to those eligible is indicated below