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Dutch national debt drops slightly to $400 billion

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - Following decades of (significant) budget deficits, the Netherlands last year recorded its second surplus year in a row. Dutch government expenditures rose by 4.3 percent in 2007 while revenues increased by 4.1 percent. Dutch national debt declined by $3.3 billion to nearly $400 billion, according to the Central Bureau for Statistics.

The increase in government expenditure was mainly caused by higher payroll costs, infrastructure investments and healthcare. Income tax revenues in 2007 rose by $9.5 billion and accounted for more than half of the government’s general revenue increase. Also, the value added sales tax revenues rose by $4.7 billion.

The government also received $2.8 billion in extra dividend payments from its business entities in 2007. In accordance with European accounting standards, such payments cannot be recorded as revenues, but, in compliance with Dutch budget guidelines, can be used to cover unbudgeted expenses.

In 2007, the government recorded a budget surplus of $3.4 billion. In 2006, the surplus came in at $4.2 billion. The net results were impacted by the deficits of local governments as well as the separately accounted social security funds, which recorded a deficit of $700 million, down from a surplus of $157 million in 2006.

The national debt was reduced further from 47.9 percent of the gross national product (gnp) in 2006 to 45.4 percent in 2007. The Dutch national debt as a percentage of gnp is well below the maximum of 60 percent allowed by the EU. In 1993, the debt-to-gnp ratio was still 78.5 percent. The per capita debt of the Netherlands is currently $24,400.