Netherlands gov't debt down €18 billion

Wopke Hoekstra
Wopke Hoekstra. (Photo: Rijksoverheid)

Last year the Netherlands' national debt decreased by 18 billion euros, from 434 billion euros to 416 billion euros, according to the central government's annual report that was released on Wednesday. That comes down to 56.7 percent of the Netherlands gross domestic product.

With that the Netherlands closed a year with a national debt that complies with European rules for the first time since the outbreak of the financial crisis. According to European rules, a country's national debt must remain below 60 percent of GDP.

The budget surplus increased to 8 billion euros, or a surplus of 1.1 percent of GDP. Economic growth amounted to 3.2 percent last year, the highest growth since 2008. 

Last year the number of employed persons in the Netherlands increased by nearly 200 thousand, and unemployment dropped below 5 percent. Wages saw a moderate increase, 1.5 percent higher than in 2016. Housing prices continued to increase last year. At the end of 2017, a house in the Netherlands was on average 8.2 percent more expensive than the year before. 

"The Annual Report 2017 offers many figures to be satisfied with, but as is well known, past results offer no guarantees for the future", Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance said. "The financial consequences are still difficult to predict, international developments, like the threat of a trade war and military tensions, cause unrest. This forces us to keep the right balance between spending money and building up buffers for economically worse times."