NETHERLANDS - Political constraints, the overall workload of pension funds and inadequate legislation could force Dutch pensions minister Aart Jan de Geus to postpone his current pension plans with a year.

Although de Geus is still trying to keep to his proposed time-schedule of January 1 2006 for the VUT and pre-pension plans, most observers believe this will be impossible.

Last week the Dutch Senate forward increased criticism during a hearing of the subject. Senators of all parties said they doubt the proposals will be implemented by the set date.

De Geus says the deadline is “ambitious but feasible”. He said that he will reassess the issue in September 2005 – and if it emerges that the plans are not workable then there could potentially be a one-year delay.

Dutch media and politicians have stated that this already means that de Geus is considering a delay – although losing face would be out of the question.

If pension funds and insurers will try to reach the goals set for January 1 2006, the latter would mean a self-destructing policy. You cannot expect parties to undermine their objections vented since months.

According to Peter Borgdorff, chairman of the VB, the association of Industry-wide e-wide Pension Funds, the proposed implementation schedule is insufficient. Borgdorff has made his views known to senators in a letter.

According to the VB, pensioners will feel the crunch of this issue in the coming year. They will not be informed adequately, especially not if total legal framework will not be available before the fourth quarter of 2005. De Geus has promised to increase and streamline overall communication to all parties, but the current process shows a total lack of transparency.

Christian Democrat MP Gerda Verburg said de Geus should keep to his deadlines. At present, the pension funds should keep to their commitments and do all possible to implement the new proposals before January 1 2006.