20 Jan 2012

Tonga retirement fund chief says hundreds want to access loans

4:02 pm on 20 January 2012

The head of Tonga's public servant retirement scheme says he's had hundreds of enquiries from members wanting to access bigger loans under new rules introduced this week.

The loan scheme was brought in last year to help members suffering in tough economic times but the Public Service Association says its members want to be able to take half their contributions in cash.

They have threatened strike action but are petitioning the King and government bodies first.

The Tonga Retirement Fund Board's Chief Executive, Saia Havili, says the board will continue to look at its policies but the Retirement Fund Act has a clear purpose.

"We are only here to provide benefit for retirement and death and permanent disablement. But also we can provide permanent assistance for early release. Basically we've been trying to explain for the last 12 years that you are saving for retirement."

Saia Havili says he has had about 200 applications under the expanded loan scheme which also offers the Fund's 2800 members help paying school fees.