“Investing for tomorrow, not to say the day after tomorrow.” This is how Minister Hoekstra announced the National Growth Fund. “It’s about the needs of the future, of future generations”, Minister Wiebes agreed. The fund of eventually 20 billion was long over the tongue in The Hague and was presented this morning.
The idea is to invest in developments that contribute to growth and the achievement of the Paris climate targets. “The way we earn our money will change in the coming decades,” said Hoekstra. “We are increasing our earning power in a sustainable way.”
The Wopke-Wiebes Fund is desperately needed, say namesakes (Wopke) Hoekstra and Wiebes. “It is necessary to be able to pay for health care, education and pensions in the future, as well as money for the household purse”
Investing out of the crisis
An independent committee assesses who should get the money. The committee only gives advice, which the cabinet can take over, but can also ignore. The House of Representatives can also block investments. Wiebes emphasized that not only the coalition is in favour of “investing the Netherlands out of the crisis”. According to him, it has a broad base in The Hague, including the PvdA and GroenLinks.
Incidentally, both parties reacted critically. “All efforts must be focused on the transition from the old to the new economy,” says GreenLeft leader Klaver. “But this cabinet will come up with a billion-dollar fund for the earning power of the Netherlands, for example.”
PvdA MP Nijboer calls the fund disappointing. “The cabinet doesn’t come up with any concrete projects. While unemployment is now rising sharply.”
Concrete projects have indeed not been announced today. In the coming period, people and organizations can come forward with ideas in three areas: knowledge development, physical infrastructure and research, development and innovation. These should be one-off investments, not structural public spending. The minimum for an application is 30 million euros, a maximum is not set.
Employers endorse the importance of the growth fund. “With this fund the government can lay the foundations for things like a new hydrogen infrastructure, high-grade public transport and new innovations,” says Hans de Boer, chairman of the employers’ organisation VNO-NCW. Greenpeace spokesman Faiza Oulahsen is afraid that economic growth will be decisive in the choices for projects of the growth fund: “It is crucial that we invest in a green and fair society
A number of ideas have been put forward recently: an extension of the North/South line in Amsterdam or a fast train connection to Groningen. But there are also calls to invest in pre-school education, hydrogen infrastructure or a very large battery in Limburg.
Almost a year ago, on Prinsjesdag, the fund was announced for early this year, but the corona crisis threw a spanner in the works. Then there was talk of 50 to 100 billion euros to be borrowed at once.
Whether the fund will rise to 20 billion euros depends in part on future cabinets and whether they see the need for it. The first tranche is still to this cabinet: on 1 January there should be 4 billion euros in the fund.
Look back here for a piece of the presentation of the ministers