Cabinet Rejects Call to Divest Nationalised Banks
THE HAGUE, 28/06/13 - Vice-Premier Lodewijk Asscher on Thursday called on the VNO-NCW employer organisation to lower pension premiums for employees. This could lead to the impulse for consumer spending for which VNO-NCW is pushing so hard.
Asscher was reacting in the afternoon to a plea by VNO-NCW chairman Bernard Wientjes in the morning to drop yet another 6 billion euros in cutbacks. Instead, according to Wientjes, the nationalised banks ABN Amro and SNS Reaal, insurer ASR and the mortgage portfolio of ING should be sold.
“You could raise many billions with this,” Wientjes said in De Volkskrant newspaper. “You could also think of selling 30 percent of Gasunie. Or the sale of 30 percent of the state’s holding in Tennet, the electricity network.”
Asscher instantly rejected the proposal. “It is unwise to sell the state banks ABN Amro and SNS now.” A better solution to help the economy is to give the money freed up by reducing the pension build-up back to the employees, he believes. “This yields 1,000 euros per employee.”
The cabinet has for some time wanted to reduce the pension premiums, so that more purchasing power would be released in the short term. This would be possible by restricting the fiscal pension build-up. But the ‘social partners’ (employers and unions) want to strengthen the pension buffers with the proceeds.
The reduction in pension build-up should lead to a reduction in pension premiums of 6 to 9 billion, according to the cabinet. “Wientjes himself holds the key. Employers are one of the parties that can make a decision on this.”