25 Feb 2009

English may suspend Super payments

6:06 pm on 25 February 2009

Finance Minister Bill English says he cannot rule out suspending payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund as the Government's books go further into deficit.

However, Mr English repeated assurances that super payments would remain at 66% of the average wage.

Mr English, after speaking at Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee on Wednesday, said suspending government contributions to the fund was an option, though it was not under active consideration.

Mr English said any decision on the matter would be included in the Budget in May.

He said people might well ask why the Government would continue borrowing to put $2 billion a year into a fund that was losing money.

He said the Government would have been better off if it had not put money into the fund during the past five years.

But he noted that governments are legally obliged to increase payments in later years if they suspend contributions to the fund.

The Government had no intention of breaking up the fund, he said.