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Dutch pension associations demand Europe vision

NETHERLANDS - The three main pension organisations have called on political parties to position the Netherlands as the country of choice for European pension funds.

The bodies want to keep mandatory fund participation and the present fiscal framework, though they want a break from new main legislation.

The comments come in a position paper ahead of forthcoming elections from the Dutch Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds (VB), the Foundation of Company Pension Funds (OPF) and the Association of Occupational Pension Funds (UvB).

They say the government should develop an integral vision for attracting European schemes, and introduce a VAT scheme for asset management, which is at least equal to those of Ireland and Luxembourg.

Moreover, national supervision shouldn't go any further than the regime in neighbouring countries, they stated. Earlier this year, the Finance Ministry endorsed a Fund for Joint Account, as a tax-transparent vehicle for international asset pooling.

The associations stress the robustness of the Dutch pension system. "This is due to the three pillars - supported by government, social partners and the private market - and the financing based on pay-as-you-go and capital funding."

Because of all new legislation, the leading organisations want the future government to forsake on ‘new large-scale operations'.

"The challenge now is to properly implement the drastic changes, and improve the communication," they state.

According to the groups, the participation in pension funds should remain mandatory.

"Otherwise, the low-risk members will leave, causing higher costs or more frugal schemes. Moreover, the solidarity between the generations will disappear."

In the opinion of the VB, OPF and UvB, the absence of a collective system will leave workers vulnerable. "Surveys have shown that consumers are hardly able to take rational financial decisions for the long term," they say.

In order to encourage employees to working longer, the government should pay more attention to part-time retirement, the umbrellas added. "For workers to get faith in new pension products like levensloop, or live course, it is important not to introduce big changes too soon," they stress.

The leading organisations also request for the legal possibility of offering collective pension products for self-employed, who should be allowed to participate on a voluntary basis.

"The government should also participate actively in the adjustment of the international accounting rules, since IAS19 doesn't take into account the specific situation in the Netherlands."

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