NETHERLANDS - Mixed reactions have welcomed the statement by DNB's president Nout Wellink on the possibility of extending the recovery time from three to five years for underfunded pension schemes.
He said a decision would be taken after talks with pension funds associations and the Ministry of Social Affairs this month.
Mercer principal Dennis van Ek agreed there should be no extension. He said: "We believe an extension of the recovery plan timing from three years to five years should not be granted, as the problem would be only postponed.
"However, we believe it should be acceptable that a scheme recovers to a funding level of 100% instead of 105% within three years."
Ortec managing director Andrew Slater said the question was not really what the law said, but actually how it was policed.
He explained: "Pensions need to be seen from a corporate perspective. Sponsoring companies have fundamentally weakened and we support an approach that keeps the company going. Forcing them to recover their funding position too quickly might further undermine the solidity of their business."
The Dutch Association of Company Pension Funds (OPF) director Frans Prins stressed it was important the policies of the supervisors and the government were predictable and consistent.
He said: "In the second half of February 2009, the supervisor and representatives of the umbrella-organisations will see what a good roadmap will be, seen the relevant articles in the Pension Act.
"Several kind of concrete measures can be considered, like a general relaxation (longer terms for recovery) or tailor made measures. Seen the intensity of the current financial crisis, we also need to discuss about all possibilities, which includes a possible cut on pension rights."
Dutch Association of Industry Wide Pension Funds (VB) spokesperson Gert Kloosterboer reinstated VB's position expressed to the DNB last week, in which it advocated a case-by-case solution for underfunded schemes (www.globalpensions.com: 30/01/09).
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