Billions of euros held by private individuals, banks, investors and pension funds must be made to work to get the economy rolling again, Labour leader Diederik Samsom says in an interview with Tuesday’s Volkskrant.
The cabinet needs to make a plan to stimulate investment. ‘Only making savings is no longer an option,’ Samsom told the Volkskrant.
The Labour leader is not part of the cabinet even though his party is in a coalition with the right-wing VVD Liberals.
According to Nos television, the two parties have begun behind-the-scenes talks on how to make further savings next year in order to meet eurozone budget deficit rules. They have already agreed the next austerity package will be no higher than €6bn and are due to present their plans in September.
Ministers must ‘not only focus on getting the treasury in order,’ Samsom told the paper. ‘We have to tempt people to spend money again.’
Earlier this year, prime minister Mark Rutte urged people to spend money to get the economy moving again. ‘It is obviously not enough just to ask,’ Samsom said. ‘We can no longer wait until things get better by themselves.’
‘It is time to give the economy a boost so there is more work and we start building again,’ he said.
Samsom’s comments come ahead of a parliamentary debate on the economy and mounting speculation about what the government will do to ensure the budget deficit meets the 3% eurozone target next year.
RTL news commentator Frits Wester said Samsom has called for action but the two ruling parties have been busy for six months. ‘During Wednesday’s debate, the cabinet will point to the August deadline… but we can count on tax increases,’ Wester said.
The VVD’s leader in parliament, Halbe Zijlstra, has already said he thinks the extra cuts should be made in healthcare, in housing and child benefits and in social security benefits.
Reaction from opposition parties was critical. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said the cabinet had to be a lot clearer about its intentions before people would be encouraged to spend money again.
‘Everyone wants to know what the cabinet is planning to do and what effect it will have on them personally,’ he told reporters. ‘But the cabinet keeps delaying these decisions.’
Socialist party leader Emile Roemer said Samsom’s comments are a ‘panic reaction’ and that the Labour leader should realise the cabinet cannot make €6bn worth of savings. ‘There needs to be investment and that investment should not be cobbled together from all sorts of sources,’ he said.
Pension funds said they are prepared to look at how they can invest more in the Netherlands. But the interests of pensioners remain paramount and any investment must generate a proper, risk-free, rate of return, the Dutch pension federation said.
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