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South Africa seeks to lift infrastructure investment with change to pension fund rules

PUBLISHED: Sat, 27 Feb 2021 11:35:30 GMT

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JOHANNESBURG, Feb 27 (Reuters) – South Africa’s National Treasury is proposing changing rules governing pension funds to encourage investment in infrastructure projects.

Africa’s most industrialised nation – the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic on the continent – has put public works in sectors such as transport, energy and water at the heart of its economic recovery plans.

The Treasury is proposing changes to Regulation 28 of the Pension Funds Act in draft amendments published for public comment on Friday. This rule sets the maximum percentage of a fund’s assets that can be invested in different asset classes and is aimed to shield savers from over-concentrated investments.

The proposed amendments do not introduce infrastructure as a new asset class alongside existing ones like equities, debt instruments and property but allow for infrastructure investments to be recognised within those asset classes.

They also say overall investment in infrastructure across all asset categories may not exceed 45% of domestic exposure and an additional 10% for the rest of Africa.

The changes should make it easier for retirement funds to invest in infrastructure and allow for better measurement of investment in projects, the Treasury said in a statement.

The changes are “informed by a number of calls for increased investment in infrastructure given the current low economic growth climate,” it said, stressing that the decision to invest in any asset class remained up to the board of trustees of each fund.

The public can comment on the amendments until late March.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning Editing by Frances Kerry)

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