Minister backs state support for industry

The government is considering making it easier for ordinary companies to claim state support if they get into trouble because of the economic crisis, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Thursday.

The paper says economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven is drawing up criteria which companies would have to meet to apply for government cash. At the moment, only financial service companies have been able to apply for help from a €20bn rescue fund.
The paper says the minister told MPs on Wednesday it would be sensible to extend state support to non-financial sector firms. This support would have to meet EU guidelines, she said. Companies which were in trouble before the crisis would not be eligible, she said.
The Netherlands should not ignore the opportunity to help companies, she told MPs, pointing out the role of the German government in rescuing car maker Opel.
The two opposition Liberal parties VVD and D66 are both opposed to any form of state support for industry.
In the late 1970s, help to prevent the collapse of the Dutch shipbuilding industry led to a massive political and financial scandal, known as the RSV affair. The government of the day put €2.2bn into the RSV wharf which went bankrupt in 1993.
Since then, the government has let flagship companies such as airline maker Fokker go bankrupt.
‘State support for industries? Never again,’ VVD MP Ton Elias told the NRC.
‘This is the last thing we should be doing. I am extremely concerned,’ said D66 MP Fatma Koser Kaya.
The employers organisation VNO NCW told the paper it was waiting for the minister’s recommendations with interest.
‘Structural growth must not be wasted in a period of crisis,’ said director Cees Oudshoorn.

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