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Dutch minister wants pension funds to increase local investments

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The Netherlands’ economic affairs minister Henk Kamp has said he will consult Dutch pension funds about increasing their local investments.

Answering questions from Martin van Rooijen, MP for 50Plus, the Dutch political party for the elderly, Kamp suggested that such a change wouldn’t have to come at the expense of returns.

According to the minister, pension funds invest just 2% in the Netherlands at the moment, whereas insurers invest 30% locally.

He emphasised the importance of a strong economic structure for society, “as pension funds’ participants will also benefit from this”.

He added that he wanted to engage with pension funds “without rules, pressure, or threat”.

Van Rooijen’s questions were triggered by a recent TV appearance by Kamp, during which the minister talked about pension funds’ position in the Dutch economy.

In Kamp’s opinion, pension schemes could play a “stabilising role in the volatile international economy” through investing in Dutch multinational companies.

“It would make me feel very comfortable if pension funds would not only focus on returns but at the same time take into account results that would also benefit the Netherlands,” the minister explained.

However, Van Rooijen said the comments sounded like an encouragement to pension funds to deviate from their main goal of investing in the interest of their participants and pensioners.

The economic affairs minister also made the comparison between pension funds’ and insurers’ domestic allocations when the Dutch Investment Institute (NLII) was established in 2014.

At the time, he suggested that pension funds should be able to increase their investments in the Netherlands by “more than one percentage point”.

In the past, Dutch investment professionals have not been enthusiastic about increasing local investments.

For example, speaking during the Pension Federation’s congress in 2013, Toine van der Stee, chief executive of the €20bn asset manager Blue Sky Group, said that his company would not change its carefully designed investment policy “because politics deem it necessary”.

“We are not a philantropic institution. Our task is to offer purchasing power for the participants of our clients,” he said.

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