NETHERLANDS – SPOA, the €1.2bn pension fund for public pharmacists in the Netherlands, has taken the initiative for an external investigation into its financial position and the functioning of its own board, it said.
The pension fund, seeking to break the deadlock between rank-and-file members and the occupational association (BPOA) over which institute is to carry out the investigation, recommended setting up a committee with representatives from all pharmacist branch organisations.
The committee would select the institute, define the questions for the inquiry and ensure an independent and thorough process.
That said, Raimond Siebesma, SPOA's director, stressed that the pension fund would only support an investigation being carried out "meticulously and by a competent bureau".
On its website, the pension fund suggested accountants KMPG, PwC and Deloitte as potential candidates for the inquiry.
Rob van Bakel, spokesman for the 450-member Association of Young Pharmacists (VJA), said his organisation was still considering the pension fund's proposal.
"We have been asking for an independent investigation for a year, and, during this period, we have only encountered opposition," he said.
Together with the Dutch Pharmacists Co-operative (Napco) and the Association of Circuit Pharmacies (ASKA), the VJA had advocated a thorough and independent investigation into the scheme's investment policy.
Huub Derksema, chairman at Napco, said: "We might take up a seat in the proposed committee, but I am still sceptical. If the pension fund gets too much say, the investigation won't be independent."
Earlier this week, he stressed the importance of an inquiry by an independent player, rather than by an accountant from the sector network.
He also suggested the pension fund and its occupational association were too intertwined, and that the scheme dictated its wishes to BPOA.
However, the board of the association – responsible for the pension plan – insisted on an investigation by a "reputable" player, such as one of the large accountant firms, and has decided to step down in June.
According to the Napco chairman, this could provide a solution for the long-term conflict.
"We might get a new board that is better at playing the ball," he said.