NETHERLANDS - The Dutch Central Bank says the overall financial position of Dutch pension funds have improved remarkably.

De Nederlandsche Bank’s latest financial figures show that as at the end of 2004 only eight schemes were under the required coverage ratio levels requested by the regulator.

This compares to 190 and 45 schemes under the measure at the end of 2002 and 2003 respectively - taking into account a four percent discount rate.

According to the DNB, most of the ongoing improvements have been based on new management strategies and the implementation of new regulations.

And there have been new premium and indexation policies, changes in investment strategy or a total re-evaluation of the pension arrangements.

Improved financial market conditions, largely on the equity and other investment sectors have also played an important role during 2003 and 2004.

Most of the detrimental situation, under-coverage of the respective funds, in 2001 and 2002 was caused by the financial market crash.

The DNB has been requesting all pension funds to put their financial situation in order, which has been put into several recommendations and regulations during spring and November 2004.

It asked all pension funds at that time to reassess their proposed recovery plans.

It is expected that, based on current market conditions, a further improvement of the financial position of funds will be occur.