NETHERLANDS - The Dutch minister of social affairs has agreed to lobby internationally to get essential components of the Dutch national pensions accounting system acknowledged in the new International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

Minister Piet Hein Donner said in a letter replying to questions from a group of Dutch MPs, led by Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omtzigt, he is prepared to launch a joint approach with like-minded EU countries, such as the UK and Ireland.

"Internationally, I will ask for the attention of my colleagues in the other member states for this topic," said Donner.

In particular, the Netherlands government is seeking the ability to continue to use the 'corridor approach' - a key component of Dutch pensions accounting - which the IASB has suggested should be withdrawn.

He will also ask former Dutch minister of finance, Gerrit Zalm, who currently is chairman of the board of trustees at the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), for more information about the board's proposals.

The minister thinks the risks Dutch employers will incur under the IASB's pensions accounting reforms have not been adequately addressed: "The cabinet would find it unwanted if the Dutch system, in which defined benefit (DB) schemes are still dominant, comes under pressure because new IAS rules make an adequate picture impossible."

In early May, 133 of 150 Dutch MPs urged the government to take steps against the proposals and launch an international campaign to secure crucial elements of the Dutch system's reporting regime. (See earlier story Dutch parliament rallies against IASB proposals)

Parliamentary questions were triggered by the announcement of project manager Anne McGeachin of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) when she said an exemption for the Dutch pension system will not be considered as part of the revision of IFRS.

Last week, however, IASB member Philippe Danjou hinted the board could be on the verge of scaling back the scope of its Phase I project to address pensions accounting, when he told delegates at a public forum in Germany: "We should not go too far with this project."

According to Danjou, "In the beginning, there was a tendency to rethink everything and to get into questions [about] everything and to try to incorporate very modern views in this project. We may need more modest improvements [in order to make progress]." (See earlier IPE story: IASB hints at watering down of pensions review)

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