NETHERLANDS - More than a million Dutch pension holders might still be able to take early retirement in spite of the new government limitations, with healthcare scheme PGGM developing a plan which allows retirement at 62.

The cabinet aims at a longer working life of its citizens and is trying to make early retirement as unattractive as possible. The Dutch parliament recently agreed to scrap the tax breaks on early retirement VUT en pre-pensions premiums by 2006.

PGGM, the second largest Dutch scheme, will use its own money for pre-pensions. The fund has the money available since it changed its early retirement scheme VUT already in 1999 into a scheme under which the customers are saving for their personal retirement.

At the heart of PGGM’s plan is that employees can take part in both the new ‘levensloop’ and their regular pension scheme. The ‘levensloop’ allows pension holders to save three free years by (tax free) setting aside a part of their salary. This will enable them to take early retirement in combination with their regular scheme.

According to PGGM spokesman Alfred Kool the board of the fund, which consists of unions and employers, still has to approve the proposals. But in the national debate they have already pleaded in favour of an exception for tough like those in the care sector.

The Dutch government decided two weeks ago that employees must change their pre-pensions, or switch to the new ‘levensloop’. Pension funds and insurers had urged the Dutch cabinet to postpone the implementation date of the new legislation. They fear there won’t be enough time for adjusting the approximately 75,000 different schemes.