Economists have criticised the rumoured appointment of a senior civil servant as the new head of the government’s macro-economic think-tank CPB, Nos television reports.
Laura van Geest is currently director general of the finance ministry’s national budget department and outsiders say her appointment threatens the independence of the institute.
Van Geest has not yet been formally named for the job by the cabinet but various sources have told Nos the appointment has been finalised.
‘The role of the CPB as an independent institute has gone, thanks to her appointment,’ VU university economics professor Eric Bartelsman told the broadcaster. ‘As far as I am concerned, the CPB can be abolished.’
‘The CPB will be less likely to take a stand,’ Ewald Engelen of the University of Amsterdam said. The institute will now be less likely to challenge government policy, he said.
Van Geest’s predecessor Coen Teulings was highly critical of the government’s inflexibility about meeting eurozone budget targets.
‘It is a little odd that all the top jobs at regulators and independent institutes are going to former finance ministry civil servants,’ said Bartelsman. Both the central bank and financial sector regulator AFM are led by former civil servants.
Although Van Geest is ‘extremely clever and ambitious’ she is not suited to the job as CPB chief, he said.