• Bill Birch

Tonight's proposed amendments to the Farm and Fishing Vessel Ownership Savings Acts would free up vital funds for people with accounts under those schemes, Finance Minister Bill Birch said today.

"The amendments complete the closure of the Farm and Fishing Vessel Ownership Savings Schemes by 30 June 2001," he said.

"The Government is providing certainty for those with plans to continue using the schemes. They will be able to go on saving under existing conditions until 30 June 2001, when they will receive all savings plus subsidies earned."

"We are also giving people the flexibility to use savings for other purposes. From 30 June 1998, savers will be able to withdraw their funds without penalty or restriction, providing they close their account.

"Savers closing their accounts before 30 June 2001 will be entitled to all subsidies earned up to 14 May 1998," he said.

The schemes subsidise savings for first farm or fishing vessel ownership. Formation of new accounts was stopped in the late 1980's and total savings since then have decreased by 75 percent. The Minister of Finance recently reviewed the Schemes after many account holders complained about the restrictions placed on their savings.