Rutte: Economy improving despite Q1 numbers

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Prime Minister Mark Rutte said today that the Dutch economy is soldiering on, despite the disappointing slump recorded in the first quarter, het Parool reports.

Rutte said that the unusual warm winter, the second warmest since 1901, are to blame for the drop as household gas usage was lower. "But underlying, growth continues. Investments are increasing, just as the production of industry and work for temporary workers."

The first quarter figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics don't look good, but Rutte does not want them to serve as a conclusive prediction for the rest of the year. "Quarter figures can fluctuate strongly, that's why we can't base too much on this figure."

The Prime Minister also refused to speculate further on increasing unemployment, a statistic which he said did not come unexpectedly. "We have a very open economy. That means that export must first attract, after which investments can rise and unemployment can subsequently go down. That is why it is important that export, without the effect of gas, grew further and that investments also increased. It just always takes a couple of quarters before the recovery works through to the labour market."

The Cabinet is prioritizing job creation, Rutte said. "We are now if possible even more motivated to let unemployment go down", he stated.