NETHERLANDS - Dutch social affairs minister Henk Kamp wants pension funds to offer costs transparency to their participants council and accountability body so they can determine whether costs match earlier policy choices.

In a letter to parliament, Kamp said pension funds, which already state the costs of pension provision in their annual accounts, should also explain these costs in accessible language on their websites.

The minister said he would introduce new legislation covering aspects that should be included in the concept of 'provision cost'.

Kamp said he would also look into the possibility of having these costs included in the uniform pension statement (UPO).

However, he conceded he had doubts as to whether the UPO was the best way of informing participants, as costs are "very difficult to judge or compare to individual participants".

He added: "Neither can a participant directly influence a provider, in order to affect the costs of pension provision."

He promised to take into account, when formulating the communication clauses in the Pension Act, whether information on the costs of pension provision contributed to the comprehensibility and usefulness of the UPO.

However, Kamp stressed that it was impossible to say whether pension funds' costs were generally too high, as schemes at times select relatively expensive policies with the view to generating higher returns.

The minister also said he was looking into cost-raising problems, such as following value transfer, exchange of data and competition.

Recently, the Financial Markets Authority (AFM) concluded that Dutch pension funds' investment costs were up to three times higher than reported, mainly because of external asset managers' practice of discounting costs in net returns.