NETHERLANDS – Questions over Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP’s pre-pension arrangements have been raised by two Dutch Members of Parliament.

The queries follow the decision by the Pension Fund for Metalworking and Mechanical Engineering, Pensioenfonds Metaal en Techniek or PMT, to end all pre-pension arrangements, due to increased financial liabilities.

Labour Party MPs Jet Bussemaker and Staf Depla have asked social affairs minister Aart Jan de Geus if he expects that an increased amount of subscribers at civil service scheme ABP – the largest pension scheme in the Netherlands - will opt to take the pre-pension option.

De Geus told MPs that he does not expect an incremental increase of people opting for the pre-pension scheme. According to de Geus, ABP already has several different options available for the existing pre-pension arrangements.

In principle, the latter can be opted for from an age of 55. If taking a pension at that age, no full pension will be given, largely due to the fact that most people have not worked long enough. The result is that most people cannot even afford to opt for this specific possibility.

ABP spokesman Marcel Vleugels told IPE that the fund does not expect to see an overall increase of subscribers opting for the pre-pension arrangements.

However, if there is an unexpected change in attitude, the pension fund will have to increase its pension premiums without any doubt.

At present, 62,000 people have taken the option of a pre-pension in 2003 at the fund, which is an increase of 5,000 net new pre-pensioners in comparison to 2002 (57,000).

The latter represents the total pre-pensioners. During 2003 not more than 5,000 new (net) pre-pensioners have been added to the total. This is in contrast to the 10,000 extra pre-pensioners in 2001 (51,000), in comparison to the total of 41,000 in 2000.

Depla and Bussemaker also asked about the possibility of taking a pre-pension while continuing to work – which de Geus said should still be possible.

“In the light of increased ageing of the society, more people are needed to keep working, even when this means that pensioners are having additional financial income.”