NORWAY - Contributions to the Norwegian early-retirement Avtalefestet Pensjon (AFP) scheme increased by 12.4% in 2007, Statistics Norway has revealed.

Latest figures from the national statistics agency showed contributions to the AFP scheme - which allows employees of firms covered by a collective agreement the ability to retire any time between age 62 and 67 - rose to NOK 3.4bn (€426m).

In addition, figures revealed higher earned premiums increased the profit on ordinary activities for these schemes by 104.6% to NOK 236m, while the total assets held in AFP jumped by 18.1% to NOK 1.8bn because of higher receivables and the strong development in security markets in 2007.

Meanwhile, the municipalities of Skedsmo and Kongsvinger have both issued tenders for the provision of services for occupational pension schemes.

Kongsvinger is offering a public contract for the provision of a municipal occupational pension scheme that must comply with the main tariff agreement of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities' (KS) tariff areas.

The municipality, which has employed Willis AS as consultants, added the scheme is also required to include the regulations for the AFP early-retirement and the regulations for the occupational pension scheme.

Meanwhile Skedsmo, is also tendering a public contract for an occupational scheme in accordance with the main tariff agreement of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities.

The value of the Skedsmo contract - only open to life insurance companies with public occupational pension schemes registered with the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities - is estimated at NOK 400m and is scheduled to begin on January 1 2009 with completion by January 1 2011.

In addition, Skedsmo said the successful provider must have "fixed ethical rules for the allocation of pension resources", adding that the rules should "contribute to respect for the UN's human rights convention".

The tenders follow similar contracts offered by the Norwegian municipalities of Ski and Baerum for the development of occupational schemes in June. (See earlier IPE articles: Norwegian local authority to build new scheme and Baerum seeks help establishing new pension fund_

Closing date for applications for the Kongsvinger tender is August 22 2008, while applications for the Skedsmo contract must be submitted by August 1 2008.

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