Norway denies tobacco producers access to pension funds

cigaretteActing on the recommendation of the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), the Norwegian Ministry of Finance has announced that seventeen tobacco producing companies will be excluded from the funding scheme, with share divestment in the companies having already been completed.

“When the Graver Committee proposed the current ethical guidelines, there was debate on whether to exclude tobacco producers from the Fund. With some hesitation, it was decided that tobacco should not be excluded. After the Graver Committee submitted its recommendation, there have been international and national developments through the entry into force of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the tightening of the Norwegian Tobacco Act,” explained Sigbjorn Johnsen, the Minister of Finance in a Norway Post report.

“We have taken these changes on board and believe – amongst others in light of the consultative input in connection with the evaluation of the ethical guidelines – that it is timely to exclude tobacco from the Fund. It is important that the ethical guidelines reflect at all times what can be considered to be commonly held values of the owners of the Fund,” Johnsen added.

The decision to exclude tobacco producers from the Fund came after a GPFG Management report to the Norwegian Storting which was supported by the parliament for implementation in the 2010 budget.

The Ministry of Finance, in determining the new screening criteria for tobacco producers, emphasised that the move was part of a greater delimitation of companies which fail to meet current ethical guidelines.

Accordingly, the new regulations will see all tobacco producers excluded from funding irrespective of the percentage of tobacco related business held by operators, meaning several companies presently not classified as producers under public indexes will also be barred.

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