Dutch employers have written to MPs urging them to tackle what they see as the “declining earnings capacity of the Dutch economy”, arguing that businesses are investing less and that this threatens the country’s ability to earn enough money to “pay policemen, teachers and the welfare state”.
“More investments are leaving the Netherlands than coming in,” the country’s two biggest employers organisations, the VNO-NCW and MKB, said in their briefing. “We need to ask ourselves how attractive we still are as a country for – new and existing – companies to do business and invest in.
The business community, together with academics and local mayors, warned in 2021 that “concrete rot” had set in in some key areas and that situation has now worsened, the organisations said in their update to MPs.
“We have fallen from second place to seventh in the WIPO [innovation] rankings. Our tax rates diverge from the EU average and business growth is stalling,” the organisations said. “In fact, more companies have shrunk than grown in recent years.”
To restore the balance, the Netherlands needs “more stable government policy, without constantly changing rules or continuously changing tax rates,” the organisations said. In addition, ministers should stop continually “piling policy on policy”.
At the same time, the Netherlands needs to invest in the economy of the future. “That means investing fully in knowledge and technological developments, to ensure that new ASMLs and Adyens will also emerge,” the letter to MPs said.
“But it also means putting plenty of effort into digitising our economy (think investments in 5- and 6G) and making our (future) workforce digitally literate.”
Figures from national statistics agency CBS on Monday show that Dutch industry invested 3.6% less in November last year, when compared with the year-earlier period and, the agency said, January is looking less positive.
Last week, the Dutch Startup Association also told broadcaster NOS the amount invested in new Dutch firms last year fell 27% when compared with 2022 to €1.9 billion.
Companies such as ASM International have already warned the four parties in talks on forming a new government that plans to cut the number of people moving to the Netherlands to work will damage the economy.
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