Bill Gates calls on Netherlands to continue foreign development

Bill Gates (Photo: World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons). (Bill Gates (Photo: World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons))

Microsoft founder and richest man in the world Bill Gates called on the Netherlands to continue investing in foreign development cooperation. It is important to keep the development budget at a decent level, even with the current high influx of asylum seekers, he said in an interview with broadcaster NOS.

"I do think in the years ahead as the economy is better and as the refugee crisis is demanding less resources, there will be an opportunity to get (the development budget, ed) up to a level where the Netherlands was at for a long long time", he said to the broadcaster. "The Germans have way more refugees and have extended their foreign aid budget a lot. That is mostly extra money. They have not reduced any of the other things they're doing."

Gates is thereby criticizing the Netherlands' policy to use part of the development aid budget for the reception of asylum seekers. In November Minister Lilianne Ploumen told the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, accounted for more than a quarter of 2015's development aid budget.

Bill Gates made a similar call on Prime Minister Mark Rutte in November 2014.

The Microsoft founder is in the Netherlands on the invitation of State Secretary Sander Dekker of Education, Culture and Science and Minister Ploumen of Development Cooperation.  On Tuesday he spoke to the European Science Ministers on the accessibility of scientific research results. He also spoke to Ploumen about poverty reduction and to Prime Minister Mark Rutte on using the asylum seekers' employment potential.