The government had too little time, not enough alternatives and not enough information when it took action to shore up Dutch banks during the 2008 credit crisis, former finance minister Wouter Bos told the Telegraaf on Wednesday.
Bos was reacting to a highly critical parliamentary report into the way the crisis was handled. Bos, in particular, came in for heavy criticism.
‘Delay was not an option. There was too much at stake,’ Bos said. ‘And I hope that no other finance minister has to go through it.’
In its report, the committee said Bos ‘was much too late’ in bringing parliament up to date and did not keep them properly informed when he paid €16.8bn for ABN Amro following its abortive takeover. He and then-central bank president Nout Wellink were also wrong not to veto the takeover of ABN Amro in 2007, the report said.
MPs from across the political spectrum praised the work of the committee, saying they hoped future governments would learn from the mistakes which were made.
Nevertheless, they praised the then-government’s decisive action which was necessary to ensure the stability of the Dutch financial system.
‘I want us to learn from our mistakes. Bos operated in a decisive way but in isolation,’ Jolande Sap, leader of the left-wing greens GroenLinks told news agency ANP.
‘The report shows a very high price was paid for ABN Amro. It is an impressive conclusion but no more than that. We cannot turn back the clock,’ VVD parliamentarian Mark Harbers said.
Tragedy or farce?