June 7 (Reuters) - Hungary's government is considering the introduction of a special tax on banks and channelling private pension funds to the state system among options as it drafts its economic action plan, online news portal Index reported on Monday.
Citing several unnamed sources, Index said a third idea on the table was the introduction of a ceiling on bank interest rates to ease credit access for households and small businesses.
The government was not available to comment.
Press officials at Hungary's top lender OTP Bank OTPB.BU said they could not comment as they did not have information on the issue, and the Bank Association was not immediately available for comment.
Index said the government was mulling these options as it seeks ways to boost revenues in order to be able to meet the budget deficit target of 3.8 percent of GDP this year, and at the same time have fiscal room to boost growth.
It said the government was also mulling the option of somehow shifting funds held by private pension funds back to the state system, possibly by offering people the option to step back fully into the state pension system.
Another option would be to set up a state umbrella fund under which the private funds would belong and become statistically part of the public sector, Index said.
Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy, when asked about this by TV2 television on Monday morning, whether the government would take private pension payment schemes back into the public system, said:
There are many kinds of proposals on the market. We have not discussed that and we have not made a decision on that. We have not talked about the pension system as such, which has three pillars by the way. But that was not on the agenda.
The first tier of Hungary's pension system is a publicly managed, pay-as-you-go financed social security pension scheme, which covers all employees and the self-employed. Under a reform of the pension system in 1997 Hungary introduced a second funded tier, causing a deficit in the first tier when a proportion of the contributions were redirected to the funded scheme i.e. mandatory private pension funds.
These funds accumulate and invest contributions paid by their members into individual accounts.
If many people were to decide to fully go back to the state pension system, that would reduce the deficit in the state pension system and thus raise revenues for the government.
(Reporting by Marton Dunai and Krisztina Than; editing by Patrick Graham)