NETHELANDS - The new bill on VUT, pre-pension and 'levensloop', or VPL, should come into force as of January 1 2006, Dutch social affairs minister Aart Jan de Geus has told parliament.

According to the minister, three-quarters of all members of additional pension schemes will be in a scheme which is already in conformity with the new VPL rules. During 2006 a transitional scheme will apply for the remaining quarter.

Citing the results of random tests of the regulator DNB, De Geus said over 50% of the schemes - representing 76% of the members - will be able to implement their scheme within the fiscal framework of VPL.

"On January 1, even 65% of the schemes with 85% of the members might be ready,” he added.

The three large insurers, which represent half of the number of schemes, will be ready by 2006 as well, however largely due to schemes which don't need adjustments, the minister said. "Of the schemes which do need adjustments, only three small ones will be ready.”

In order to avoid a levy on the total of the claims of the 1.5m employees whose schemes won't be ready, De Geus has proposed a transitional scheme for 2006. It allows splitting the scheme for tax purposes in a 'fiscal pure' and a 'fiscal extra' part. The transitional scheme will be budgetary neutral, he claimed.

The Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds, or VB, has no objections to De Geus' proposal. "The minister has come up with a very creative solution, by allowing schemes which are ready to proceed, whilst not coercing the remaining scheme to fall in line,” said the VB’s director, Peter Borgdorff.

But Borgdorff is not entirely satisfied with the employers' levy for the premium part that exceeds the new VPL limits, which the minister has in mind for the non-complying schemes.

"But as the department of Social Affairs has calculated a monthly amount of €6m, we are talking peanuts,” he said.

The employers, represented within the Association of insurance and financial services advisers, or NVA, have announced legal proceedings against the Dutch state, if minister De Geus doesn't scrap his levy plans.