Aviation group seeks pension approval after 10-year delay
THE head of the State's aviation watchdog has written to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform calling for urgent final approval of its pension scheme after waiting almost a decade.
Cathal Guiomard outlined the "dissatisfaction" of the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) staff, managers, pension trustees and external audit committee at the lengthy delay.
And the issue may not be resolved until the proposed merger between CAR and the Irish Aviation Authority, which Mr Guiomard reveals could be two years or more away.
In letters to both the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Transport, Mr Guiomard urged officials to provide an explanation for the delay to the Dail's Public spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The CAR chief appeared before the committee last month but couldn't offer an explanation to TDs for the delay in issuing final approval for the scheme, which was established almost 10 years ago.
In his letter to the Department of Public Expenditure (DPER), Mr Guio-mard reiterated his dismay.
"As I explained to the members of the committee, I know of no objective reason for the exceptional delay, given the CAR has throughout provided the department with all the information and materials that you have sought," Mr Guiomard wrote.
"From the CAR's point of view, I would be obliged if the DPER would urgently issue final approval for the CAR's pension scheme, for which we have waited so long, to allow this matter to be concluded in the short term."
CAR's annual report for 2011 noted that its pension scheme, which had a deficit in the year of €252,733, has interim status.
In the letters to both departments, Mr Guiomard said that he wrote to the Department of Transport last year and that in April he received confirmation that both departments and CAR would sit down to work out a solution.
It was expected that the matter would be resolved by the end of last year.
"However, to our great frustration, work on this issue came to a halt again in November last," he said.
"At that time, we were told that resolution of the matter would have to await the CAR's merger with the IAA (which is two or more years away) even though all concerned were fully aware of the merger plans during last autumn's discussions."
He also pressed the Department of Transport to secure the final approval.