NETHERLANDS – The Dutch pension fund associations the VB and the OPF have criticised the government’s pre-pension proposals – with the head of the OPF saying: “It’s difficult to see where it ends.”

“Our problem is that we have invested an enormous amount of money on introducing flexible pensions,” said OPF head Jeroen Steenvoorden in an interview. “This is a long-term business and you need a long-term partner.”

“You can’t have the government switching directions.” He said the proposals call for the setting up of new schemes – which would entail double administration costs as well as more complex communication and pension planning.

“It’s getting quite difficult to communicate if we are forced to create different scheme designs.”

And he said the timescale to introduce the changes by the start of 2006 is not enough. “We think you need at least three years. We want a longer transition period.”

Steenvoorden said the plans would probably go the second chamber of parliament next week and that the OPF was planning meetings with MPs to lobby on the issue.

He said: “It’s difficult to see where it ends. There will be a change in the retirement age one way or the other.”

The government last week widened the transitional measure for early retirement and early retirement. In July the government said: “It is vital to increase participation in the labour market due to the Netherlands’ increasingly ageing population. This is necessary to ensure a sustainable social security system.

“That is why the government has decided to no longer stimulate early-retirement with tax-cuts. Instead, the government wants to increase the possibilities for taking leave during a worker’s entire career. The main aim is to share the financial burdens and perks more fairly between generations and to offer workers more freedom-of-choice.”

The government and the social partners held lengthy negotiations last year about a new fiscal system for early retirement and the proposed Life Course Plan.

Clarification: ran an item on August 25 about the new Dutch corporate governance code – this refers to the VB’s own code.