NETHERLANDS - The Dutch pension fund lobbying organisations have called on a new Dutch government to hold back from adding further pension regulations, as fundamental system changes would be seen as risky to an already under pressure sector.

The VB, OPF and UvB representative bodies have issued a joint statement, ahead of a fresh national election, arguing any new government needs to support the sector rather than prescribe new rules as pension funds are already struggling thanks to the stress of recent financial markets, on the one hand, and the effects of increasing longevity on the other.

In their opinion, the government must, for example, refrain from setting rules which cap tax-assisted pensions, and instead leave any such cap to social partners.

"Pensions is a labour issue and it is therefore the prerogative of employers and employees to conclude pension arrangements," the representative bodies pointed out.

One proposal presented by the pension representatives suggested 650,000 self-employed people, or ‘zzp'ers' as they are also known, should be allowed to remain as members of industry-wide pension fund they are in for longer than is currently allowed when they leave an employer. Similarly, officials argue they should be allowed to keep their pensions tax advantages for longer.

At present, zzp'ers can only stay in the pension fund of their former employer for a maximum of 10 years, and only three years of this carries fiscal benefits.

Instead, the lobbying organisation argue social partners should find an adequate solution at sector level to this problem, as zzp'ers are not considered to be a homogenous group.

At the same time, the three groups - now working together as a collective - also claimed the diversified sector of industry-wide schemes, company pension funds and occupational schemes should be given the ability to create a tailor-made approach to governance changes and to the rules around the right to comment on pensions.

They also argued the industry must be given ample time to develop best practices when fundamental changes in asset and risk management have to be made and when  reviewing pension contracts, as recommended by the Frijns and Goudswaard committees.

And rather than increasing pensions communication, the VB, OPF and UvB added, the government should allow pension funds more scope for principle-based supervision on communication.

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