BELGIUM - Belgian pension funds returned 1.14% for the first six months of the year - compared to over 9% at the end of 2010 - according to latest figures from the Belgian Association of Pension Institutions (BAPI).

Despite the fall compared to last year's figures, the association's president Philip Neyt insisted the returns were "good", stating that BAPI's long-term investment targets - which examine returns over a 25 to 30 year cycle - remain stable and the current market volatility was not an issue for  concern.

Karel Van Gutte, secretary general of BAPI, said pension funds had suffered from the crisis. After taking inflation into account, the 1.14% returns to June fall to negative returns of 1.39%.

However, he stressed to IPE that under current investment guidelines, Greek sovereign debt was automatically divested once the sovereign debt crisis led to its downgrading to sub investment grade.

He added that negotiations taking place to form a new national government include practical proposals to further strengthen the country's second pillar beyond its current 48 sectors of employment covered by the Vandenbroucke Act.

At the end of June 2011, the investments by members of BAPI - which account for around €16bn of the €60bn in assets under management in Belgian pensions - were 38% in equities, 50% in bonds, with a further 5% in property, 3% in liquid assets and 4% others.