The Dutch Pensions Federation has said it is still too early to make concrete proposals on a future, sustainable pensions system.
Responding to the government’s statement on its plans for the pension system’s renewal, the industry group said the memorandum left many questions unanswered, citing the “complexity of the matter, the big interests at stake and the divided opinions of stakeholders”.
The Pensions Federation welcomed the government’s desire to preserve the current system’s principles of collectively shared risks and mandatory participation.
In its opinion, however, it missed the opportunity to provide clarity on a new fiscal framework, “as this is relevant to both existing and future pension contracts”.
The federation said it was analysing the consequences for participants and pension funds of the two options favoured by the government – one based on individual pensions accrual and another drawn on “defined but uncertain” benefits.
It said it would focus its investigation on a simultaneous transition to a new pensions contract and the replacement of average pensions accrual with a degressive one.
It said it would assess the effects of transition from the current arrangements to a future set-up, and that it would map out the pros and cons of the financial and legal aspects, as well as the consequences for communication and implementation.
The industry group aims to complete its analysis in the autumn, allowing political parties to take its conclusions into account for their manifestos for the national elections in March 2017.
Meanwhile, the union FNV said it was not yet ready to support an expensive transition to degressive pensions accrual, while the association of insurers (VvV) said it was in favour of such an approach and temporary fiscal leeway.
The union VCP said a transition period of 25 years was too long, while employer organisation VNO-NCW called for a “long transition”.
CNV, another union, warned of “too many” choices for participants and said it opposed the government’s suggestion participants should be allowed to take out part of their pension as a lump-sum at retirement.
In a joint statement, KNVG and NVOG, the lobbying groups for pensioners, argued that the government’s memorandum ignored pension funds’ current funding problems and urged it to come up with measures to prevent rights cuts.
Although the government said average pensions accrual must be replaced with degressive accrual, it made clear that the social partners would be allowed to maintain existing pension arrangements.
A national pension fund, however, as championed by the Socialist Party (SP), is now off the cards, “as this would come at the expense of institutional frameworks”, according to the memorandum.
The government said it would look into how mandatory industry-wide pension funds could be temporarily allowed to co-operate with ring-fenced assets, before a new Cabinet is to take over next year.
It will also assess whether a partial lump-sum at retirement can be introduced.