US - CalPERS board president Rob Feckner has hit back at critics of government pension plans, claiming they continue to provide a good deal for taxpayers despite current difficulties.
However, he said a close examination of history and the facts suggested it was way too early to make such assumptions.
He added: "[Traditional pension plans] are an extremely cost-effective way of providing decent retirement benefits to public employees, with three out of four dollars paid in CalPERS benefits coming from investment earnings, not taxpayers.
"And remember that public servants pay into the pension fund, too - without fail. The average CalPERS retiree receives an annual pension benefit of just under $24,000. Many do not receive Social Security."
Last month, it was revealed that the funded status of CalPERS could fall to as low as 68% by the middle of next year unless the scheme is able to turnaround a 20% loss on its value since 1 July (www.globalpensions.com; 22 October 2008).
Feckner pointed out that CalPERS began in the Depression of the 1930s and had survived the 1987 stock market crash and the recession of 1990.
He said: "During the 2000-02 recession, our pension fund lost $50bn on paper, but we rebounded with a gain of $120bn over the next four years.
"It may take time for markets to recover, but CalPERS has more than enough cash to pay benefits without selling a single asset."
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