NETHERLANDS - Dutch social security minister Mark Rutte’s idea of setting up boards of commissioners at pension funds has won funds’ backing.

Marcel Vleugels, spokesman at the civil service fund Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, told IPE that the fund has already implemented a new and more transparent framework, which not only addresses Rutte’s concerns but will also set up new instruments to give pensioners more direct influence over fund management.

Vleugels said that ABP has implemented a transparent management system, which supports total openness towards the participants.

According to ABP there is however still an improvement necessary to take away current concerns of pensioners that they are not having enough say in the future investment, accounting and management decision-making process.

ABP has implemented already most of the necessary instruments, but it still sees still ways to improve. As Vleugels said, overall performance and transparency within the sector as a whole, especially when looking at smaller pension funds, which have not enough staff to improve management capacity, a lot needs to be done.

These views were echoed by healthcare fund PGGM. Spokesman Kees Verhagen said that PGGM feels it’s necessary to address the Rutte proposal in full.

In a first reaction, Verhagen said that PGGM will support the proposal, but still needs to see what specific instruments need to be put in place. Already, according to Verhagen, PGGM has improved its overall transparency, and is addressing necessary supervisory problems related to the members of the board.

According to Verhagen, Rutte’s proposal is mostly focused on financial aspects, such as the financing of current and future pensions and accounting issues. PGGM supports increased transparency, largely due to the need to address existing concerns of pensioners.

On this point the fund will install a new participation council for pensioners, which will have important say in future strategic decisions. Both pension funds, ABP and PGGM are eagerly awaiting new changes to the Pension Law, which will be presented to Parliament in early 2004.

Nothing has yet been made public about this yet – but no changes to the role of the pension and insurance industry regulator, the Pensioen- & Verzekeringskamer, are to be expected. The PVK is in the process of merging with the central bank, De Nederlandsche Bank.