NETHERLANDS - Dutch pensions minister Piet Hein Donner has said the Dutch central bank and pension regulator DNB will decide in the second half of February whether additional measures need to be taken to help pension funds survive the credit crunch.

Donner wrote in a letter to the Dutch second chamber the DNB will survey around 20 pension funds at the end of this month to map out how the schemes can give shape to a recovery plan, the deadline for which has been set for 1 April.

The conclusion of this survey, combined with the quarterly statistics of December 2008, will be used to determine both on the level of the fund as well as on a macro level "the situation regarding the preparation of the recovery plans", said Donner.

"Subsequently, in the middle of February 2009 there will be discussions accordingly between the DNB, the pension sector and my department [the ministry of social affairs]," he concluded.

Only then will it be decided if either the DNB or the ministry of social affairs will need to take extra measures or give extra leeway on the already postponed recovery plan.

Earlier this week, the Dutch pension sector said it was far from enthusiastic about Donner's proposals to give underfunded pension funds leeway on the deadline for recovery plans if they agree to raise the official retirement age of 65. (See earlier IPE story: Pensions sector rejects recovery term age proposal)

The issue was tabled during a recent meeting between representatives Donner and the social partners who govern pension funds.

After emergency talks in November, the DNB and the ministry of social affairs decided pension funds will not have to submit recovery plans before April 2009.

Depending on their specific investment risks, most pension funds have a reserve shortfall when their funding ratio drops below 125%.

In this case, the financial assessment framework nFTK requires schemes to submit a 15-year recovery plan.

Underfunded schemes with a cover ratio of less than 105% must inform the regulator of how they expect to improve their position within three years.

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