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Dutch professional funds face new legal move

NETHERLANDS - A draft of the amended Bpr law is expected to be presented to the Dutch parliament at the beginning of next year.

The law governs the mandatory participation in professional pension schemes, which the secretary of state originally wanted abolished. It was felt that the professional schemes were outdated, and obliged employees to remain in their occupational field. The UVB, the Dutch union of professional pension funds, however, disagreed, and has managed to dissuade the secretary of state from abolishing the Bpr law.

Instead, a series of amendments is being drafted that will force professional schemes to show more solidarity. Plans are to allow the professional schemes to be obligatory only if they offer features that cannot be found in the free market.

The secretary of state wants to see no difference in the contributions and premiums between married and single professionals, and the difference in life expectancy between men and women to be disregarded, but many professionals disagree.

Rene Bastian, pensions director for the UVB explains: "professionals, such as doctors and vets, have to pay the premiums on their own. Unlike other types of employees, professionals are the sole contributor to their pension fund. If men and women, and single and married professionals are treated the same, it is bad for the individual."

The secretary of the state also wants to see no difference in premium pay-outs between ages, but says Bastian: "this could result in young professionals having to pay for older professionals, when they cannot guarantee that someone will be paying for them in years to come."

"As yet, it is not known exactly what is going to be proposed in the draft when it goes to parliament next year, but we intend to put our points across", says Bastian.

Any amendments that are passed will become official as of January 2004.

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