ITALY - The Istituto Nazionale di Previdenza dei Giornalisti Italiani has hit back at media reports which recently indicated the pension fund for Italian journalists was in financial troubles.
In a statement, INPGI president Andrea Camporese said: "INPGI is not at risk, it is healthy and it will be healthy in the future."
Camporese said the fund had €2bn (US$2.9bn) under management and it would close 2009 with an €80m surplus.
However, he conceded the system would see reduction in its assets, a "negative curve which will last from 2021 to 2040, due to the better benefits today's pensioners enjoy".
INPGI will carry out a consultation with Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI), the national union of journalists, and Federazione Italiana Editori giornali (FIEG), the association of media companies, to address the issue of this prolonged deficit.
In particular, the scheme said it will discuss the option of raising the contribution rates journalists currently pay, which are more than seven percentage points lower in comparison with what other workers in the same salary ranges pay into their schemes, with the FNSI and the FIEG.
In addition, Camporese dismissed the criticism from the media INPGI did not respect the legal requirement of holding assets equal to at least five times the total value of pensions currently in payment.
He said the comparison some media reports did were using the 1996 valuation of its property holdings, the year in which the fund was privatized, while now those holdings are worth approximately double that value (€1.4bn).
He added the fund has always had a very prudent investment strategy, which has yielded over 21% net in the last five years.
According to its 2008 annual report, the scheme was managing two separate pension funds. The Gestione Separata had 60.05% of its portfolio allocated to government bonds, 18.3% to equities, 13.4% in mutual funds, 6.3% in hedge funds and 1.8% in bonds.
The Gestione Obbligatoria had 60.6% in mutual funds, 13.8% in government bonds, 12.5% in hedge funds, 11.9% in equities and 1.1% in bonds.
The top stories this week were the High Court's decision to block the £12bn annuity transfer from Prudential to Rothesay Life, and a separate court ruling that 'raises the bar' for pension rectification exercises.
Guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation has soared to the top of pension schemes' to-do lists, with 58% stating it is a priority project, research from Equiniti has revealed.
Professional Pensions is holding its defined contribution (DC) conference on 4 September.