Dutch reforms feasible without pensions accord, say experts

first_imgDutch pension funds could introduce a sustainable pensions contract without the need for a high-level agreement or new legislation, several experts have claimed.According to Mercer, the existing legislation for bringing in an improved defined contribution plan (Wet Verbeterde Premieregeling, or WVP) – with its option of variable benefits – already offered sufficient leeway for new sustainable pension arrangements in line with those discussed by unions, employers and government.Last week, negotiations about pensions reform between the three parties broke down amid disagreement on secondary issues, including increasing the state pension age and bringing self-employed workers, or zzp’ers, into the pension system.Other experts have backed up Mercer’s view, with Erik Lutjens, professor of pensions law at Amsterdam’s Free University (VU), arguing that government legislation was also not crucial for accommodating zzp’ers in the second pillar. The WVP already complied with the conditions of a “simpler, tailor-made, flexible and sufficient pension”, as set out by Jetta Klijnsma, the former state secretary for pensions, at the start of the nationwide dialogue for a new pensions system in 2015, according to actuary Marc Heemskerk.Speaking last week at a pensions seminar hosted by his employer Mercer, Heemskerk said that the current defined contribution (DC) pension plan offered by Shell Netherlands – comprising an accrual and a benefits phase but including the elements of collectivity and solidarity favoured by the unions – could act as a blueprint for a new system.Heemskerk suggested switching to a pensions system with collective accrual for individual pension capital in a DC scheme in a pool, with participants having the option of picking their individual investment mix.He highlighted that, in the accrual phase, such a “DC plan with investment choice” would lack the often disputed elements of financial buffers and discount rate for liabilities.On the other hand, participants could benefit from the strong points in the current system, such as investment scale and solidarity through sharing investment risk, mortality risk and labour disability risk, according to the actuary.In his concept, participants’ accrued individual pension rights would be gradually shifted to the benefits pool – with diversified investments and less risk exposure – between the age of 57 and 67.If they had not opted to participate in the benefits pool beforehand, they could use their capital at retirement to shop around for benefits from an insurer, explained Heemskerk.Dutch-Canadian pensions expert Keith Ambachtsheer has also voiced support for a “simpler and more adequate” pensions system with a pool for returns and a ‘safety’ pool. Theo Kocken, CardanoTheo Kocken, founder of Cardano and professor of risk management at the VU, has proposed such a set up as well. When asked by IPE, he argued that the benefits pool with shared longevity risk would be possible under the current financial assessment framework (FTK).Accrual in the return pool could take place “with less complexity and less discount rate discussions, and with less distrust among participants as a result”, he said, adding that “the options for tailor-made investments would increase”.Kocken also highlighted that pension funds could implement both pools under the current rules for mandatory participation in a pension fund.Discount rateHeemskerk also suggested that the discount rate for liabilities – currently the market rate topped up with an ultimate forward rate (UFR) – could be replaced with the higher European UFR for insurers, which he described as “an objective quantity”.He said that the application of EIOPA’s UFR would raise the average coverage ratio of Dutch pension funds from 108.6% to 114.2% at the moment.In his opinion, such an increase would not be irresponsible “as the minimum required funding, and the trigger for rights cuts, for Dutch pension funds was 104.3%, rather than 100%”.Recently, Gabriel Bernardino, chairman of EIOPA, indicated that pension funds could also apply the European UFR for insurers, as long as it complied with the local supervisory framework.However, both Dutch regulator DNB and social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees have opposed the introduction of the European UFR for pension funds, with DNB even advising insurers to be cautious using the EIOPA rate.Retirement ageThe Netherlands’ state pension (AOW) age has been set by the government at 67 and three months from 2022, with subsequent rises linked to longevity – a decision strongly opposed by trade unions.Heemskerk suggested that the dispute could be solved by taking 66 as the standard retirement age for workers facing a low pension income, usually people in hard physical jobs.AOW benefits for people with better pensions perspectives should be proportionally discounted if they decided to take their occupational pension earlier than their retirement age for the AOW, he proposed.Self-employedAt the seminar, Heemskerk also said he supported mandatory pensions accrual for self-employed workers “unless they can prove that they have sufficient pensions assets in, for example, their home or their company”.Erik Lutjens, said a high-level pensions agreement was not needed for providing zzp’ers with access to second pillar pensions.Instead, he said it could be achieved through a “simple legal change” aimed at allowing pension funds and low-cost DC vehicles (PPI) to implement pension plans for self-employed workers. The IORP II pensions directive already provided for this, he said.As an alternative, zzp’ers could be forced to join an industry-wide pension fund in their sector, Lutjens said.Meanwhile, the Dutch government has said it doesn’t expect negotiations about pensions reform to restart soon.The largest trade union FNV, for its turn, has announced industrial action, with police officers and port labourers interrupting work for 66 minutes on 13 December.Its aim is to put pressure on the government coalition through the provincial elections in March, as the county councils will then elect the new Dutch senate.last_img read more

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Nothing but good times

first_imgExpressions of interest in 107 King Arthur Terrace, Tennyson, closes on March 20For the past 13 years this north-facing, flood-free home at Tennyson has been the perfect place for Phil and Karon Wikman to entertain their friends and family.Memories of big birthday parties for their three children and many school functions have not been forgotten.“We have had two 18th birthday parties and a 21st. We’ve also celebrated two 50th birthday The two-storey, five-bedroom home has an imposing facadeparties,” Mrs Wikman says. “We’ve celebrated many milestones in this home and the most people we’ve entertained here is about 200.”Mr Wikman says the house is “at its best” when it is full of people. “There’s plenty of space to entertain — inside and out,” he says. “My favourite part of the home is the outdoor terrace, because of the river views.” Even the TV room in the five-bedroom, three-bathroom home has been transformed into a disco room, according to Mrs Wikman, who says they also had DJ playing in the space. There is plenty of entertaining space in the family homeWith the inclusion of an infinity-edge pool and private pontoon with a jet-ski dock, the Wikmans say there is little chance of being bored at 107 King Arthur Terrace, located about 7km south of Brisbane’s city centre. And for those who love a nice drop of wine, the Wikmans have repurposed a secure vintage bank vault into a 440-bottle wine cellar — a quirky hidden addition. The kitchen was recently upgraded and has a marble island benchtopOnly a few steps away from the cellar is the spacious kitchen, which the couple updated three years ago. It features a statement marble island bench, soft-close drawers, a stainless-steel Miele convection microwave/speed oven, wall oven, induction cooktop, integrated dishwasher, and concealed preparation space, to accommodate small appliances.Describing it as “sleek and sophisticated”, Mrs Wikman says it is a nice spot from which to enjoy the views of the Brisbane River.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus9 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market9 hours agoThe upper level of the house, accessed via a 5m walkway, has a spacious parents’ retreat with a jaw-dropping en suite and views of the golf course.“There’s a few boats that go past and you can sometimes hear the rowers in the morning too. Having said that, it’s a nice quiet stretch of the river,” Mr Wikman says. The mezzanine has a billiards table and chillout zoneAlso upstairs is another of the home’s chillout zones — a mezzanine billiards’ room overlooking the open living areas below and taking in sweeping river views. With a built-in bar, the billiards room maintains connectivity with entertaining spaces on the lower level, while offering a separate games’ zone.The Wikman’s are looking to stay in the area, but want to move to an apartment with their 11-year-old dog Coco.They hope a family with school-aged children buy their much-loved home.The property is close to the Queensland Tennis Centre and the Tennyson Reach riverfront lifestyle precinct, which is under construction.last_img read more

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NSRI Evacuates Two Injured Seafarers from Bulker off Port Elizabeth

first_imgTwo injured crewmen were evacuated from a bulk carrier off Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on August 28, the country’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) informed.The crew members sustained injuries after a wave washed over the 177-meter-long MV Bona in heavy seas.Consequently, the two men were washed up against machinery on board the vessel.At the time of the incident, the Handy bulker was believed to be offshore of the Transkei Coast.In the evening hours of August 28, NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Toft, accompanied by two EC Government Health EMS rescue paramedics, to rendezvous with the ship and evacuate the seafarers.Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) was alerted and a duty doctor was put in contact with the ships medical crew to evaluate the seafarers’ medical condition.It was determined that sea conditions were most favorable for the vessel to head towards Algoa Bay.NSRI Port Elizabeth sea rescue craft rendezvoused with the vessel three nautical miles offshore of the Port of Port Elizabeth, evacuating the injured men.Both patients were brought safely into port and transported to hospital for further care.The 2012-built Bona, previously known as Merganser, is owned by Greece-based company Unit Maritime, according to data provided by VesselsValue.last_img read more

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Child abuse protection systems failing NZ kids – judge

first_imgONE News 16 June 2013Damning new figures released to ONE News reveal efforts to curb child abuse are failing. Rates of child abuse have risen by 32% in the last five years, with instances happening to children who are already in the care of the state. A district judge has now spoken out, saying it is time for a new approach. Figures show more than 21,000 New Zealand children were victims of child abuse last year alone. Around one-fifth of them (4000) were taken from their families and put into Child, Youth and Family care homes. But it was in these supposedly ‘safe homes’ that at least 23 vulnerable children were further abused.http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/child-abuse-protection-systems-failing-nz-kids-judge-5466483last_img

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Nigeria, Ghana continue dominance in World T20 qualifier

first_imgNigeria continued their fine form on day two of the ICC World T20 Africa Qualifier A, as they saw off The Gambia by 55 runs, at the Tafawa Balewa Square Cricket Oval in Lagos on Sunday.The Nigerians again batted first, and they piled on the runs, eventually notching a formidable 176 for five in their 20 overs. The star for the home side was Ademola Onikoyi, who blazed an undefeated 75 off just 55 balls. There were two massive sixes and nine fours in the free-spirited knock, as the number three took Nigeria to a place of comfort. Skipper Chimezie Onwuzulike continued his fine form, with a quick-fire 34 off just 18 balls.The total was always going to be a massive test for The Gambia, who had lost their opening match to Ghana by 58 runs. They again breached the 100 mark, thanks in main to a belligerent knock of 29 off just 16 balls by PA Hassan Faye. He struck three sixes for good measure.Nigeria sit top of the standings, but they are joined by their neighbours, Ghana, who also made it two from two matches on Sunday. The Black Sticks were pushed by Sierra Leone after they to batted first and racked up a total of 140 for eight. Simon Ateak was the mainstay, striking a composed 57 off 42 balls.In response, Sierra Leone were feisty, but the required rate of seven an over proved beyond their developing top-order. Lansana Lamin kept them interested with 28 off 25 deliveries, but he needed help from the other end.Ultimately, Ghana prevailed by 31 runs, but the fact that Sierra Leone made it beyond 100 was due to some ill-discipline with the ball, which saw 13 extras conceded – including nine wides. Ghana will want to iron out some of those frailties ahead of their clash against Nigeria, as those two will clearly battle it out for bragging rights this week. The action resumes tomorrow with Sierra Leone and The Gambia in the morning, followed by the Yellow Greens and Black Sticks in the afternoon. The fixtures and more information for the tournament can be accessed here https://www.icc-cricket.com/world-t20/Points Table Team PlayedWonLostTiedNo Result PointsNRRNigeria22 00023,337 Ghana2200 022,250Sierra Leone202000-2,778The Gambia202000-2,825 Fixtures: Tuesday 17th April 9 30am Gambia vs Sierra Leone 1:50pm Nigeria vs Ghana Wednesday 18th April 9:30am Gambia vs Ghana 1:50pm Sierra Leone vs Nigeria Thursday 19th April Reserve Day Friday 20th April 9:30am Ghana vs Sierra Leone 1:50pm Nigeria vs Gambia Saturday 21st April 9:30am Sierra Leone vs Gambia 1:50pm Ghana vs Nigerialast_img read more

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