National Grow Fund: €20 billion reserved for infrastructure, innovation, R&D
In the coming five years, the government is pushing a total of 20 billion euros into the National Growth Fund, which is intended to fund once-off projects that will make the Dutch economy more resilient in the next 20 to 30 years, Ministers Wopke Hoekstra of Finance an Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate announced on Monday.
The fund, often referred to as the Wopke-Wibes fund, is intended for knowledge development, infrastructure, research, and innovation. The fund will have its own budget and an independent committee, which is separate from politics and advised by experts, will be set up to assess proposals.
Companies, organizations and other parties can nominate a project with the Ministry it will fall under. The Ministry will officially submit the application to the independent committee for approval. Proposals must need at least 30 million euros. No upper limit was set.
Hoekstra said last year already that he wants to take advantage of the current low interest rates, which make it cheap for the Dutch government to borrow money. The coronavirus crisis both delayed plans for this fund, and showed how important such a fund is, the Ministers said on Monday.
"It underscores the importance of building up buffers in good times, so that investments can be made in bad times instead of budget cuts," the Ministers said. Things like the aging population, climate change, and more limited productivity can also hinder growth for the Dutch economy. This National Growth Fund is intended to be a counter balance for setbacks like that.
"In order to maintain and increase prosperity for the next 20 to 30 years, the economy must grow faster and differently. That is necessary in order to be able to pay for healthcare education and pensions in the future and also to have money left over for the household wallet," Wopke and Wiebes said.
More details about investment plans will be announced at the annual State of the Economy address in February. The Ministers hope to allocate the first projects for funding before the end of the Rutte III government's term, which ends with the parliamentary elections in March next year.