NETHERLANDS -  Arthur Docters van Leeuwen, exiting chairman of the Dutch Financial Markets Authority (AFM), has called for greater fiscal transparency and exemption from dividend tax for pension funds.

Docters van Leeuwen presented his comments yesterday at the launch of the new Holland Financial Centre, for which he has been appointed chairman, in a report entitled Towards a strong, open and internationally-competitive financial centre.

The Amsterdam-based HFC hopes to further develop the Netherlands as an internationally-attractive and strong financial centre, and to promote the country's pensions expertise.

From a group of 50 recommendations made in the report, concerning, for instance, legislation for limited companies, access to capital markets and fiscal aspects, Van Leeuwen presented 10 he believes should have top priority.

HFC recommends, among other things, there should be greater flexibility for pension funds in allocating voting and dividend rights, identification of shareholders, as well as introduction of a one-tier board, reduction of advertising requirements when investment fund terms are changed and exemption from dividend tax.

"Dividend tax is a problem for foreign investors, above all for those coming from countries that do not have a tax treaty with the Netherlands and therefore cannot deduct tax," HFC said in a statement.

"This deduction option should be facilitated. Dutch and EU pension funds should be exempted altogether," HFC added.

VAT should also be removed on fund manager fees  and other suppliers of services to funds for collective investment and pooling vehicles, HFC has proposed.

Major Dutch financial services providers such as pension funds ABP and PGGM, as well as the Dutch central bank (DNB), AFM and banks Rabobank and ABN Amro are participating in the HFC initiative.