NETHERLANDS - The three umbrella organisations of Dutch pension funds have called for clarity following an announcement by the incoming government of an intention to levy additional taxation on those who take early retirement to fund the state pension, the AOW.

In a joint statement the three groups - the Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds (VB), the Foundation of Company Pensions Funds (OPF) and the Union of Occupational Pension Funds (UvB) - said: "The much-praised Dutch three-pillar pension system is a coherent unit. A change in one pillar affects the other two. Therefore, we are asking for early consultations on the implementation effects of possible changes in the AOW."

The new coalition partners - the Christian Democrats (CDA), the labour party (PvdA) and the Christian-right party Christen Unie (CU) - have agreed that workers, who retire before the official retirement age of 65 would have to pay extra tax to finance the AOW.

The levy will apply to additional pensions of over €18,000 a year. Those aged over 65 who keep working will receive a tax benefit. The scheme will take effect from 2011.

The new government still needs to consult the social partners on the implications of the scheme in the case of company earnings and difficult and onerous jobs. The Bureau for Economic and Policy Analysis (CPB) has already indicated that the scheme will be difficult to implement.

Together, the umbrella groups represent 5.7m workers and more than 1.8m pensioners. The assets of their members total approximately €568bn.