EUROPE - Dutch pension funds will not be asked to contribute to the EU's financial rescue plan for Greece for the time being, according to the Dutch Treasury.

The arrangements for contributions from the private sector have been made with the International Institute of Finance (IIF), which only represents insurers and banks, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Treasury has said.

She added that, because it has been agreed that any contribution will apply to Greek government bonds with a duration until 2020, pension funds will be exempted, as almost all their bonds holdings have a longer duration.

The Treasury announcement comes on the back of a letter from the Dutch Pension Federation to finance minister Jan Kees de Jager, stressing that schemes had the legal duty to look after the interests of their stakeholders - "which don't include the interest of the Greek government or its citizens".

According to the lobbying organisation, the uncertainty around Greece has already caused many schemes to divest all, or at least part, of their holdings in Greek government bonds.

Schemes still owning bonds have also taken their loss, as they need to value them against the market rate, the federation argued.

The representative body has urged the minister to refrain from mentioning the pension sector in the context of EU support for any ailing euro country.

In its letter, the Pension Federation underlined the severe effects on the credit crisis on pension funds, with plummeting coverage ratios, rising contributions, no indexation and even benefit cuts, adding that schemes were currently at pains to restore confidence in the pension system.

Earlier, the three largest schemes - ABP, PFZW and PMT, which have combined assets of almost €380bn - told IPE they had already offloaded their Greek government bonds last year and now had no intention of buying new ones.

In a recent blog posting, Peter Borgdorff, director of the €100bn healthcare scheme PFZW, said: "Greece should not be rescued with our pension assets, which are meant for a proper pension for our participants. Therefore, we will say 'no' if the finance minister rings us."

Although the €242bn civil service scheme ABP has sold all its Greek government bonds, it said it still held approximately €550m of Greek index-linked bonds with a duration until 2025.

A spokesman for pension supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank estimated the combined exposure of Dutch pension funds and insurers at no more than €1bn based on data from last April.

Banks still own approximately €2bn of Greek government debt, he added.