NETHERLANDS - Dutch pension funds have voiced scepticism on proposals tabled by labour party PvdA that would see schemes managing and investing in school buildings.

Harmen Geers, spokesman for the €277bn asset manager APG, said: "Nobody can argue about the need for proper school buildings.

"However, the primary social responsibility for pension funds is to provide pensions, by increasing the pensions assets through investments with the matching risk-return criteria.

"At present, it is insufficiently clear what the potential risks and returns of this plan are."

APG is the pension provider for the large civil service pension fund ABP.

In a memo to parliament, PvdA MP Metin Çelik suggested that "clean, suitable and safe schools" should be financed and run from an investment fund with the assets of pension funds.

He suggested councils and other users hire the "high-quality" buildings for 20 years under inflation-linked contracts, but become owners again thereafter.

However, Çelik said he would like to keep open the option of capping returns to prevent "usury profits".

The MP further indicated that he intended to ask social affairs minister Henk Kamp to find out whether an investment fund for schools could build better schools more cost-efficiently than they are currently built.

Annemieke Biesheuvel, spokeswoman for the €37bn metal scheme PMT, said: "Our participants demand in particular a commercial approach from us to generate the required returns, which means we will lay down strict conditions, including a government guarantee for inflation-linked rent."

The €99bn healthcare pension fund PFZW declined to comment.