It’s official, the Banque de France pension plan is maintained. His governor François Villeroy de Galhau received assurance from the government’s retirement pensions, Laurent Pietraszewski, in a letter dated Thursday, February 13, which Capital was able to consult. The specific retirement system of the bicentennial institution will therefore continue and the assets of the reserve fund of employees of the Banque de France will continue to finance pensions. A reason for satisfaction for the agents of the Banque de France, who benefit from a “special” pension scheme. “This is a positive result of the action that has been taken collectively by the management of the Bank and the staff representatives”, we are delighted on the side of the institution in an internal note that Capital has consulted.
If we are talking about a special regime for the Banque de France, it is for its method of financing and not for the rights it grants. Indeed, this regime underwent a major reform in 2007 aimed at aligning its functioning with that of public service. Now the possibilities of leaving before the legal age have almost disappeared. “At the end of 2018, there were only 73 agents, or 0.4% of the permanent staff, who had this right,” said the institution’s communications department. In addition, the so-called “specific retirement supplement” system, also known as “volunteering”, also ended in 2007. It enabled all staff members to have their pension increased by 14% without having to pay additional contributions.
Funding paid at high price by agents …
One would then think that, the regime being today almost similar to that of the public service, the agents of the Bank of France no longer had any specificity to defend. And yet: if the Banque de France belongs to the category of special schemes, it is because of the method of financing pensions. It is done via an employee reserve fund (CRE), which fully covers agents’ retirement commitments, all at the cost of certain sacrifices. “Since 2005, the agents of the Banque de France have agreed to a policy of total austerity regarding their remuneration, in return for the balance of our pension fund”, recalls Sophie Pitorson, secretary general of the national autonomous union of Bank staff of France-Solidaires.
On the one hand, this fund is fueled by employee contributions of 11.1%. “In 2019, only a salary contribution is applied to the gross remuneration of the staff of the Banque de France”, specifies Sophie Pitorson. The employer does not actually pay contributions but a supplement to the reserve fund to ensure the financial balance of the plan. “This has led since 2007, in annual negotiations, to a systematic freeze on wage increases in order to feed the funds of the employee reserve fund to cover the accounting commitments related to pensions,” said the union member. It’s a kind of social contract with the employer. Its principle? Increases that are not granted will be offset in the future by retirement. All these efforts were in danger of going up in smoke if the Bank regime had integrated the universal regime.
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… but not by the state
As for pensions, they are paid by the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations which collects from the Banque de France the sums necessary to pay the pensions of the 17,000 retirees of the scheme. The Banque de France will take care of the rest, including managing reserves, estimated at 14 billion euros at the end of 2019. A system that works without recourse to any state aid. “The existence of CRE has always exempted the State from paying us an operating budget. Pouring these funds back into the general system would therefore induce an additional burden for the State, “said Sophie Pitorson a few days before the formalization of the maintenance of the Employees’ Reserve Fund in the lap of the Banque de France. An argument that may have tipped the balance in the direction of the demands of the trade union organizations, mobilized for several months on the subject. “Six of the seven trade union organizations sent a joint letter to the secretary of state responsible for pensions alongside the letter sent by the governor to Laurent Pietraszewski on January 20,” said François Servant, secretary general CFE-CGC at the Banque de France.
A system in extinction
If the union leader recognizes that the maintenance of this clean regime “was the main demand” of the CFE-CGC, he draws up a mixed assessment of the reform which is not without impact for certain agents of the Banque de France. If the funding of pensions remains unchanged for all those who have completed their retirement before December 31, 2024, those still in employment on that date will see their pension rights decrease since the funded system will succeed from January 1, 2025 the universal system. A much less advantageous scheme. only “past rights”, that is to say from contributions paid until December 31, 2024, will be financed by the pension fund of employees of the Banque de France at the time of retirement.
“We cannot be completely satisfied, regrets François Servant. There is a part of the staff of the Banque de France who will only partially benefit from the reserves ”. The fund will therefore gradually be managed in extinction. Staff hired on or after January 1, 2025 will no longer contribute because they are part of the universal system. Those who started before this date will benefit in part from the CRE which will definitively expire on the death of the last beneficiary pensioner.