Dutch gov't not transparent about corona crisis costs: Council of State
The government is not being transparent enough about the costs of the coronavirus crisis, and what the billions of euros in support packages now will mean for the next generation, the Council of State said about the 2021 Budget. "Nobody is talking about what it all costs," Council of State president Thom de Graaf said to NOS.
De Graaf understands that special measures are needed in times of crisis, but added that this is precisely the time to identify en discuss the consequences of the current political choices. It is understandable that the national debt is now rising above the limits of the European budgetary agreements - and still in compliance with EU rules, which may be applied more flexibly for the time being, he said. But it needs to be discussed in the public debate.
"At the moment, no one is talking about ever having to repay this," Frank de Grave, member of the Council of State, said to the broadcaster. "The democratic debate can only be conducted properly if certain agreements are made about how to deal with that national debt." The current impression is that the billions in support packages is not hurting anything.
The Council of State also raised concerns about the budget's lack of an elaboration on what will happen in the event of a second coronavirus wave. This is a worst-case-scenario, but not inconceivable. Figures from central planning office CPB showed that a second wave could hold even greater blows for the economy. The Council of Sate wants the government to do a "stress test" for the Dutch budget.
The Council also said that it supports that the government is choosing to invest now. But the many current proposals lack coherence. There were already several initiatives, like InvestNL and Invest International, on top of which the National Growth Fund is now being added. The Council would like to know what is the ultimate goal with these investments - what is the overall picture, where is the coherence, and how will they be implemented in a cohesive way.