Only one-third of the existing 19,000 pension plans have applied for exemption from the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPF) to keep running after the MPF is launched in December. The remaining 12,000 pension plans which did not apply might be wound up as a result. Pension plans set up under the Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (Orso) had until yesterday to apply for exemption. By the deadline, the authority had received 6,882 exemption applications, representing 36 per cent of all Orso schemes. This represents 52 per cent of the 13,000 schemes which are qualified to apply for exemption, since only Orso plans set up before October 15, 1995 could apply. For about 12,000 employers that have not applied for exemption, they can wind up the schemes and transfer the assets to an MPF or pay out to their employees. They could also run the Orso plans to top up MPF schemes. AXA China Region MPF and employee benefits general manager Alex Cheung Kim-fung said not all employers applied for exemption because they were concerned they would have to run two pension schemes at the same time. Under MPF rules, employers that applied for Orso exemption must also set up an MPF plan and let their employees decide which scheme they wanted. It was mostly large companies that applied for exemption as they had the resources to run two pension schemes, Mr Cheung said. For AXA China Region, Mr Cheung said out of the 2,000 Orso run by the insurer, about 450 had applied for exemption. 'Small enterprises which have only 20 to 30 staff did not apply for exemption,' he said. 'It would be easier for them to wind up the existing Orso schemes and to run the MPF only.' He said among the 1,500 Orso clients who did not apply for exemption, 600 had decided to wind up the Orso and transfer the assets to an MPF plan. The reminder have not yet decided how to handle their Orso schemes, but he believed they would also wind them up and transfer their assets to the MPF.