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Single sector scheme for Dutch pharmacies off the table

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The €1.4bn Dutch occupational pension fund for pharmacists (SPOA) will not join the industry-wide scheme for pharmacists staff (PMA).

The funds have not been able to agree on a merger, according to the pharmacists’ scheme, which said it would continue independently.

BPOA – the pharmacists’ occupational association – had initiated a study into a possible merger in 2015. At the time it said that most of SPOA’s members were no longer self-employed, which could have jeopardised mandatory participation in the scheme.

However, BPOA, which has the final say in the pension arrangements, said that consultation responses from sector organisations had made clear that a single industry-wide scheme would not be feasible in the short run.

According to BPOA, independent pharmacists and GPs wanted to keep participating in a mandatory, collective, and affordable pension plan. BPOA, for its turn, wanted to enable independent pharmacists to join PMA, together with their salaried colleagues.

BPOA said it failed to reach an agreement with the €2.4bn PMA scheme, which would have comprised having some influence over how the pension plan was run, as well as the extension of PMA’s mandatory arrangements.

However, as the Ministry of Social Affairs had decided to extend the mandatory status of the pension fund by another five-year period, the occupational association indicated that continuing SPOA as an independent scheme would be the best option for the time being.

At November-end, funding of the pharmacists scheme stood at 94.3%.

PMA reported a coverage ratio of 93.2% at the end of January and indicated recently that cuts to pension rights were still an option for this year.

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