Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary at the Social Affairs Ministry in the Netherlands, is to consult with the pensions sector, social partners, regulator DNB and the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) about Dutch schemes’ precarious financial position.In a letter to Parliament, she said she and the regulator had grasped the “difficulties” pension funds were facing.She did not, however, provide any possible solutions to these problems.Klijnsma had previously suggested the government would consider raising the AOW state pension if pension funds were forced to discount pension rights. Minister of Finance Jeroen Dijsselbloem has also recently hinted at moves to “repair” purchasing-power imbalances. Funding at Dutch schemes – chiefly as a consequence of low interest rates, the criterion for discounting liabilities – has fallen to 95% on average.The minimum required by the government is 105%.If, by the end of this year, funding falls to 90% or lower, pension funds must start cutting pension rights.At Klijnsma’s request, the regulator is preparing a report on current coverage ratios, as well as the recovery plans underfunded schemes must submit by 1 April.Last week, companies and workers called on the Cabinet to stop the downward spiral in the pensions sector, the first time employers have publicly asked the government for action.In January, unions argued that the regulator should reconsider its decision last July to lower the ultimate forward rate – part of the discount mechanism for liabilities – from 4.2% to 3.3%.Hedda Renooij, pensions policy secretary at employer organisation VNO-NCW, said: “What matters to us, given the low interest rates and funding ratios, is that we can find an accessible road to a new pensions system less susceptible to interest rates.”She added that the VNO-NCW had not proposed changes to the financial assessment framework (nFTK) or the current pensions system.Meanwhile, the Dutch Pensions Federation has downplayed the loss of purchasing power for pension funds’ participants and pensioners.Its spokesman said: “Because the nFTK allows for smoothing out discounts over a 10-year period, purchasing power would probably drop no more than decimal places.”The real problem, he said, is “the lack of light at the end of the tunnel”.“If interest rates remain at their current levels, many pension funds will find themselves in a worrying position.”The Pensions Federation believes politicians must take the next step, “as pension funds are unable to solve the current problems”.
0Shares0000Chris Froome will bid to become only the fifth rider to win five Tour de France crowns this year and topple his Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas © AFP / Glyn KIRKLONDON, United Kingdom, Jan 1 – British cyclist Chris Froome will focus on becoming only the fifth rider to win five Tour de France crowns this year and forego defending his Giro d’Italia title Team Sky announced on Tuesday.The 33-year-old Kenyan-born cyclist will aim to dethrone his Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas, who will also target the sport’s showpiece event. If successful Froome would join Spaniard Miguel Indurain, French duo Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault — whose overall victory in 1985 is the last time a Frenchman won — and Belgium’s Eddie Merckx as five-time winners.American Lance Armstrong finished first seven times, but was stripped of his victories for doping.The highly-regarded 21-year-old Colombian Egan Bernal will lead Team Sky’s challenge for the Giro and along with Froome and Thomas hope to deliver a fairytale end to British media company Sky’s nine-year backing.Froome, who in 2017 achieved the Tour and Vuelta double, said age had been a factor in what had been a “difficult decision”.“I’ve got some amazing memories from last year, but I think, with the Tour de France as my main objective, it’s probably better that I skip the Giro d’Italia in 2019,” the 33-year-old said in a team statement.“I’m getting to the point in my career now where I’m starting to think about what kind of legacy I want to leave behind and if I am able to win the Tour de France for a fifth time and join that very elite group of bike riders — only four other people have ever done that — it would just be incredible.”Thomas, 32, said he might have focussed on the Giro/Vuelta double had he not been defending his Tour crown.“Having won the Tour, I’ll have the number one on my back and it would be sad not to go back and not to go back at 100 per cent as well,” said Thomas, who will also compete in the Road World Championships in Yorkshire, England, in September.Bernal, who showed his promise last year in winning the Tour of California and his home tour, said Italy was like a second home to him.“I lived in Italy for three years, so I have a lot of friends there and I really like the Italian fans.“I know the roads, I really like the Giro, and I want to do a good race there.”Bernal will begin his campaign defending his Tour Colombia title which gets underway in Medellin on February 12 and ends in nearby Alto de las Palmas on February 17. Froome will be riding alongside Bernal.“It will be the first race with Froomey there so we want to do it well!” the Colombian said.The Giro — the first of the year’s three Grand Tours — runs from 11 May to 2 June, and the Tour from 6-28 July.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)