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Holland rules out land mine investment rules

NETHERLANDS - The Dutch government does not intend to introduce new pension fund investment legislation concerning cluster ammunition and anti-personnel mines, Social Affairs minister Piet Hein Donner has announced.

Given the existing investment options as well as other recent initiatives, the Cabinet does not see any reason to consider reforms but expects the parties involved to meet their responsibilities, Donner said.

There have been calls in the Netherlands to introduce some form of socially responsible investment pension fund rules concerning investment in firms manufacturing certain types of weapons after a television network investigation revealed Dutch pension funds, including the €11.1bn Spoorwegpensioenfonds (SPF) pension scheme for railway workers, had between them invested €230m in US companies making cluster bombs and land mines.

Donner was responding to parliamentary questions posed by Socialist Party MP Krista van Velzen on the ethical criteria for investments of pension funds, and transparency of investments.

Van Velzen is seeking greater pension fund transparency for workers and pensioners, and argues they should be allowed to question pension funds' boards.

Donner made clear the Dutch government's belief is the transparency of pension funds is the schemes' responsibility.

"The guiding principle is the requirement that the schemes must invest in a solid way, focusing on the interests of their participants," he said.

Pension funds' participants are already able to comment on and influence investment policy through the participants' council on the conclusions of matters such as actuarial accounts, the minister pointed out.

In addition, the principles of pension fund governance include rules for the board to report to its accountability body, Donner added.

Although the minister acknowledged investment in anti-personnel mines is against the spirit of the Ottawa Treaty, it doesn't prohibit investment in their production, he stated.

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