The new government must spend billions on mobility: NS chief

The new government must spend billions on mobility: NS chief

The next government will have to spend billions of euros on improving mobility to make sure the Netherlands remains competitive, NS chief executive Roger van Boxtel said on Tuesday. Without sufficient investment, the Netherlands will grind to a halt on both the roads and the railways, Van Boxtel said. The NS is planning to invest €3bn on new trains and improvements in the next few years, he said. Van Boxtel was speaking at the publication of the 2016 NS annual accounts, which show the state-owned railway invested €791m last year. At the same time, the NS' average customer satisfaction rating rose from 74 out of 100 to 77. More trains were on time, taking the punctuality rating to 91.3%. The annual report also shows that last year NS paid €600,000 in compensation to two senior members of staff who lost their jobs. The names of the managers were not made public and they were not part of the management board. They were, however, in key positions, the report showed. MPs have criticised the payouts and want to know if they were approved by finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.  More >

PwC approves 'misleading' accounts for SHV

The new government must spend billions on mobility: NS chief PwC has approved the accounts of a subsidiary of SHV, Holland's largest privately held trading company, even though the accounting firm admitted internally that the accounts were 'misleading', the NRC said on Tuesday. The paper bases its claim on its own investigation into the affair based on interviews and confidential documents. SHV is a trading company owned by the Fentener van Vlissingen family which has interests in transport, retail, oil, food and financial services worldwide. PwC, the paper says, has approved the accounts of SHV subsidiary Econosto Mideast for years. The unit supplies industrial valves and pipeline connections for oil companies in the Middle East. The NRC says Econosto Mideast has always paid buyers for its customers in cash, but has booked these payments as personnel costs, as if they were their own sales staff. Misleading PwC was aware of this and termed the practice 'misleading' in internal reports to SHV. It warned the SHV board that these payments were 'criminal' and said it had 'serious misgivings over the legality of the payments'. Nevertheless PwC continued to approve the accounts for years. PwC and the individual accountants made no reaction to the NRC investigation. But last weekend, the paper said Econosto Mideast was also involved in shadow accounting and possibly involved in trade with Iran. On Monday, Bart Koolstra, a member of the supervisory board of Amsterdam financial markets watchdog AFM abruptly resigned. In his former job as senior partner at PwC he had signed off on the 2009 accounts of the company.  More >

Utrecht loses most competitive area crown

The new government must spend billions on mobility: NS chief The province of Utrecht has slipped to second place behind the London metropolitan area in the third edition of the European Commission's regional competitiveness index. The Dutch province is now on a par with the English counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, north of the London metropolis, according to the new ranking. Utrecht scores particularly well in terms of its infrastructure and innovation. The Amsterdam region is the next best Dutch performer, coming in 12th out of 263 European regions. Zuid-Holland province, which includes Rotterdam and The Hague, is in 18th place. Friesland is the worst performer among the Dutch regions, in 83rd place. However, it does not perform any worse than regions the EU considers to be comparable, such as Drenthe in the Netherlands, or Northamptonshire in England. Groningen by contrast, scores poorly on infrastructure, health and innovation while Zeeland is doing less well than comparative regions in terms of innovation. The index includes economic measures and social elements and takes into account the level of development of a region by also looking at innovation related factors.  More >

Shell warned about climate change in 1991

The new government must spend billions on mobility: NS chief Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell knew of the 'catastrophic risk' of climate change 30 years ago but continued to invest in oil and lobbied against action, the Guardian said on Tuesday. Internal documents show that as early as 1986, Shell knew that oil and gas were damaging the climate, the paper said. And in 1991, the company made a 28-minute film called Climate of Concern, for public viewing, which warned of 'extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees as fossil fuel burning warmed the world'. The film was obtained by online Dutch journalism platform De Correspondent and shared with the Guardian. Shell has recently lobbied successfully to undermine European renewable energy targets and is estimated to have spent $22m in 2015 lobbying against climate policies, the Guardian points out. In addition, the company’s investment in alternative energy sources has been minimal compared to its fossil fuel investments. Shell said in a reaction: 'Our position on climate change is well known; recognising the climate challenge and the role energy has in enabling a decent quality of life. 'Shell continues to call for effective policy to support lower carbon business and consumer choices and opportunities such as government lead carbon pricing/trading schemes.' Read the full story  More >

Top official admits sister-in-law favour

King’s commissioner in Drenthe admits favouring sister-in-law A former Labour party MP, who now chairs Drenthe's provincial council, has admitted putting forward his sister in law to redevelop a listed building in Assen, despite earlier denying the claim. Jacques Tichelaar, the king's commissioner in Drenthe, has admitted favouring his relative in a letter to the provincial authority, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday. The paper has a copy of the letter. Tichelaar told local television station RTV Drenthe last week that a civil servant had approached his sister in law, who runs design studio Klinkenberg-SO, about the project. In the letter to the province, Tichelaar says that there were delays in redeveloping the listed building and that he approached two companies. His sister in law eventually earned €3,100 from the job, which was carried out in 2015. The issue will be debated by the provincial council on Wednesday. The Volkskrant says Tichelaar was embroiled in another incident involving a family member in 2013 and had pledged then never to act on behalf of a relative.  More >