NETHERLANDS --The industry-wide pension fund for the metalworking and engineering sectors, PMT, has decided to provide its own collective ‘levensloop’, or life-course, scheme rather than follow a collective scheme approach favoured by other funds.

The levensloop is a new savings scheme for early retirement or for parental or care leave.

The implementation of the scheme will be contracted out to pensions provider and asset manager Mn Services, which already handles PMT’s asset management and administration.

“Mn Services has been chosen, because of its service level and the one-stop-shop principle”, the pension fund said. “Moreover, other providers couldn’t offer the required tailor-made solutions, and quoted returns that were too low”.

The PMT levensloop scheme is the first to be handled by Mn. However, an Mn spokeswoman said it was in serious discussions with other pension funds on providing a similar service. She declined to identify the funds.

The PMT industry-wide pension fund services 40,000 companies with a total of 420,000 employees. All have the option of participating in the levensloop scheme.

Meanwhile, the Dutch consumers’ association, the Consumentenbond, has asked social affairs minister Aart Jan de Geus to grant a six-month postponement to employees who participate in the tax-friendly ‘spaarloon’ savings scheme on whether to stay with spaarloon or to sign up to the new levensloop.

Currently, those in the spaarloon scheme have to make a choice by the end of the year.

“Consumers can’t make a proper choice now, because they don’t know yet the financial effects of the new national health care scheme”, the Consumentenbond argued in a statement.

“The financial consequences of the new healthcare scheme won’t be clear, before workers receive their first salary at the end of January.”

Without a delay, many people will probably postpone their choice for the levensloop by a year to 2007, it added.