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Pension funds have been established to provide retirement benefits for their members. Members make contributions during their employment and receive the benefits of this form of saving in retirement. In order to receive concessional taxation treatment, a pension fund must elect to be regulated under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act). These funds are supervised by either APRA or the ATO. Public sector funds, being funds sponsored by a government employer or government controlled business enterprise, are exempt from direct APRA supervision.
Corporate funds are funds sponsored by a single non-government employer, or group of employers. Industry funds generally have closed memberships restricted to the employees of a particular industry and are established under an agreement between the parties to an industrial award. Public sector funds are those funds sponsored by a public sector employer. Retail funds are pooled superannuation products sold through an intermediary to the general public. Funds with less than five members but which do not qualify as self-managed superannuation funds are known as small APRA funds.
In addition to separately constituted funds, the SIS Act also provides for special accounts operated by financial institutions earmarked for superannuation contributions, known as Retirement Savings Accounts, that also qualify for concessional taxation under the supervision of APRA. The liabilities represented by these accounts are liabilities of the institutions concerned and are included with the relevant institution in this chapter (for example retirement savings accounts operated by banks are included in bank deposits in table 26.4), but are also footnoted in table 26.8 for completeness.
The number of pension funds is shown in table 26.7. The assets of pension funds are shown in table 26.8 and include unfunded pension claims by pension funds on the Commonwealth Government where these have been formally recognised in accounting systems. The assets in the table do not include any provision for the pension liabilities of Australian governments to public sector employees in respect of unfunded retirement benefits. At 30 June 2001 the ABS estimate for claims by households on government for these outstanding liabilities was $121.1b.