Kelly LoftusPublic Information OfficerVermont Agency ofAgriculture(802) 828-3829www.vermontagriculture.com(link is external) The violations were discovered during routine inspections conducted byinspectors from the Vermont Agency Agriculture’s Food Safety and ConsumerProtection Division. In all the stores assessed a penalty, inspectors found thatprices at the registers were higher than prices advertised on shelves forcertain items. Those discrepancies ranged from 4 percent error to 12 percent.Rite Aid Vermont alone had a range of scanner discrepancies from 4% error to 8%error with over $15,000 in penalties assessed. “Even the slightest inaccuracy in pricing can have enormous cost impactto the consumer. This is especially true during times of economic strain whenfood and transportation budgets are squeezed even further with rising costs,”said Henry Marckres, Chief of the Division of Consumer Protection for theagency. “Our goal is to work cooperatively with Vermont businesses and to takecorrective action when necessary to make sure the problem doesn’t happen againto protect consumers.” You can protect yourself, as well. Keep track of the price of items,especially items marked on sale, as you go through the store. Monitor theseitems as they are rung up at the check out. Also, it’s important to check yourreceipt before you leave the store and notify an employee of any discrepancies.For more information contact the Consumer Protection Division of the VermontAgency of Agriculture at 802-828-2436 or visit www.vermontagriculture.com(link is external). Retailer Penalty Dollar General,Colchester $420.00 GU Markets of VT, S. Burlington $1,235.00 GU Markets of VT, Swanton $3,105.00 Kinney Drugs, Lyndonville $820.00 Kinney Drugs, S. Burlington $1,305.00 Mac’s Market, Essex $3,510.00 Mac’s Market, Essex Junction $200.00 Mac’s Market, Woodstock $1,305.00 Natural Provisions, Williston $970.00 Rite Aid, St. Albans $1,305.00 Rite Aide, Derby $1,605.00 Rite Aid, Lyndonville $4,255.00 Rite Aid, Colchester $1,035.00 Rite Aid, Essex $1,305.00 Rite Aid, Enosburg $1,905.00 Rite Aid, St. Johnsbury $2,070.00 Rite Aid, Randolph $2,140.00 Rite Aid Pharmacy, Burlington $1,035.00 Shelburne Supermarket, Shelburne $890.00 The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food andMarkets recently assessed penalties to numerous retail establishments forviolating Vermont retail pricing laws. The Dollar General Store, Rite Aid ofVermont, Kinney Drugs, and Mac’s Market are among the retail outlets that havebeen assessed penalties ranging from $420.00 to $4,255.00 for overchargingconsumers for items purchased in their stores. This year to date, 134inspections were completed that resulted in no corrective action or assessmentof penalties. “Laser scanner checkout systems fall under the state’s weights andmeasures laws which come under the jurisdiction of the Agency of Agriculture,”commented Mike Duane, assistant attorney general, who serves as the agency’sgeneral counsel. “In most instances the charges are not contested and the storeshave paid the penalties assessed. There was no evidence of any intentional wrongdoing in any of these cases,” Duane said.
Not all new financial rules for pension funds will be introduced on 1 January 2015 as planned, Jetta Klijnsma, the Dutch state secretary for Social Affairs has suggested.In answers following consultations with parliament, Klijnsma hinted that some parts of the new regulatory framework might be introduced later.ABP chairman Henk Brouwer, responded positively to Klijnsma’s suggestion.“Everything that could contribute to decrease the risk that pension funds won’t get sufficient time to implement the rules is welcome,” he said. But Gerard Riemen, director of the Pensions Federation, was less conciliatory. “I can’t work with hints,” he commented, demanding that the state secretary take the objections of the sector against introduction on 1 January into account.Riemen added that he would not be surprised if the introduction of the FTK were be executed in stages. However, neither Brouwer nor Jan Tamerus, chief actuary at PGGM, fiduciary manager for the healthworkers’ fund PFZW, said they could envisage how the rules could be cut up and separated.Tamerus believed that Klijnsma was likely referring an increase in the options for collective risk-sharing for defined contribution plans, which could could come into force later than 1 January.But both Brouwer and Tamerus expected that pension funds with defined benefit plans would not have much to gain from those increased options. “I am following my intuition here,” said Brouwer. “If pension funds such as ABP and PFZW want to use these options, than they must close their scheme and agree new pension arrangements with their participants. This is how it goes with collective DC plans.”In Tamerus’s opinion, the introduction of the full FTK on 1 January would not pose a problem based on what is known about the coming changes. “These could be implemented straight away. Only an amendment of current legislation would be sufficient.”Several political parties had asked the state secretary whether she still deemed the introduction of the updated financial assessment framework (FTK) achievable on 1 January.Part of the process is consultations with the employers and unions about adjusting pensions plans, which usually require more time than changing systems and processes.Klijnsma indicated that she is now considering how to introduce the draft legislation, which is currently with the Council of State (RvS) for a legal assessment.She reiterated in parliament earlier this week that the aim of the new rules is to better guarantee accrued pensions for the short and medium term, and that a discussion about the future of the retirement system – to be started this year – is meant to safeguard pensions for the long term.The state secretary further made clear that she wanted an additional survey of the merits of the average premium approach, which is increasingly opposed by younger generations.