NRCC Dutch Business News March 2019

Thu | 21.03.2019

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More backing for climate change plans after ministers’ carbon tax u-turn

The Dutch have become more open to the government’s plans to tackle climate change since the decision to include a carbon tax for heavy industry in the package, according to a survey by I&O Research on behalf of the AD.

Some 33% now say they are positive about the government’s strategy, compared with 25% three weeks ago, before the u-turn on a carbon tax.

Some 27% are now negative about the plans, down from 33% during the first survey, the AD said. ‘Most voters would appear to value the fact that the prime minister has shown leadership,’ spokesman Peter Kanne told the paper.

Some 76% of those polled said they welcomed the decision to include the tax on polluting industries and 73% are pleased the tax on energy is to be reduced. Earlier this month the government said it would cut energy taxes for private households and bring in some form of carbon tax for heavy industry.

 

Ivanka Trump ‘to attend’ international business summit in The Hague

Ivanka Trump is expected to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague on June 4 and 5, according to ‘reliable sources’ cited by public broadcaster NOS. It is the first time the conference, a gathering of international top business people, will have been held in Europe. Over a thousand companies will be represented in The Hague in what has been described by foreign affairs minister Sigrid Kaag ‘a big trade mission only the other way around’. It is not clear whether president Donald Trump will appear. At the last summit, in India, he also sent his daughter.

The summit is a joint effort by the Dutch and the American foreign affairs departments. Topics will include innovative solutions for problems related to food, water, energy, health and connectivity. Dutch companies including Philips, APG, DSM, Ahold, Unilever and Rabobank will also be taking part.

 

Government invests more money in boosting literacy and internet skills

Ministers have set aside €425m over the coming five years to boost literacy, numeracy and computer skills among people who have difficulty functioning in society. In total, the money will be used to target 2.5 million adults and children ‘with and without an immigrant background’, the education ministry said on Monday.

‘Language, arithmetic and digital skills are essential to be able to contribute to society,’ education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said in a statement. ‘A lack of skills is a barrier to independence in our society, both online and offline. So we are investing heavily in helping people improve their basic skills.’

The money will be spent on adult education classes and special subsidies for employers who sign a ‘language agreement’ pledging to work to combat illiteracy.

By 2024, at least 1,000 companies should have signed up for the agreement, and the target is to provide help to 30,000 people via the corporate scheme.

Money will also go on helping people learn to use computers and smartphones.

 

Buying a newly built home in A’dam? You must live in it yourself due to rental ban on new owner-occupied homes

Amsterdam officials want to bring in new rules to make sure that people who buy newly-built homes in the city actually live in them, rather than rent them out. The move, according to alderman Laurens Ivens, would stop private investors buying up properties and, therefore, driving up house prices.

The ban on rentals would be incorporated into the ground rent rules, he said. The city owns most of the building land. ‘An increasing number of new homes are being bought by investors who want to rent them out for enormous amounts,’ Ivens said. ‘These investors can pay prices that Amsterdammers can’t compete with and the city is becoming unaffordable, both to rent and to buy.’

It is an attempt to prevent new homes from being bought up by investors and then rented out for hefty sums, the municipality said in a press statement. The ban will not only apply to the first buyer, but also to the people who later buy the home.

Amsterdam would have liked to also implement a rental ban on existing owner-occupied homes. "But for that it seems a law change is necessary", Ivens said.

The municipality is currently investigating whether exceptions can be made in the ban, for example for renting to family members. The city aims to have a concrete proposal for such a rental ban ready by the end of the year.

Officials are looking into making exceptions for parents who buy a house for their children and for people who are posted abroad to work for a time. City officials are currently drawing up a variety of measures to make housing cheaper, and they are due to be presented to the full council by the end of the year.

 

Women more likely to lose managerial functions through demotion

Women are less likely to retain a leading position if they are demoted to a lower position than men, Social and Cultural Planning Office - SCP said in a new report. As a result, fewer women hold top positions than men, according to the planning office, ANP reports.

At least 58 percent of women who are demoted are given a job in which they do not have a leading role, according to SCP. This applies to 37 percent of men. On average 40 percent of both men and women are demoted at some point in their career. A third of people who lose a managerial position through demotion, are back in a manager position three years later.

According to SCP, the difference between men and women in top jobs also has to do with the fact that women work part-time more often than men. Many companies only want full-time managers, the planning office said.

 

Rotterdam Port creates more parking areas preparing for a no-deal Brexit

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is setting up five additional parking areas in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. These "buffer parking locations" have space for 700 trucks, for the event that carriers do not have their customs documents for maritime transport to the United Kingdom, NU.nl reports.

Trucks without the proper customs papers can park in one of these additional areas while they register and report their load in the correct manner. Once their papers are in order, they will get access to the ferry terminals in the port of Rotterdam. In this way the Port Authority, the municipalities of Rotterdam and Vlaardingen, and road authority Rijkswaterstaat want to ensure that a no-deal Brexit does not disrupt the port's activities.

UK’s departure from the EU is scheduled for March 29.

 

Freelancers at highest risk of poverty: Stats Office

Of all working people in the Netherlands, freelancers are most often at risk of dropping below the poverty line, Statistics Netherlands reported. In 2017 the percentage of freelancers - self-employed persons with no employees - at risk of earning less than they need increased, while the number of employees at risk of poverty has been decreasing for years.

According to Statistics Netherlands, a single person is at risk of poverty if he or she earns less than 1,040 euros net per month. For a single parent with one child that amount is 1,380, and for a couple with two children 1,960 euros. In 2017, the latest figures the stats office has, 2.5 percent of Dutch households, 188 thousand people, were below this line and therefore at risk for poverty.

The percentage of workers at risk of poverty, both employees and freelancers, has been decreasing since it peaked at 3.5 percent in 2013. In 2017, however, the proportion of freelancers at risk of poverty increased again, from 8.1 percent to 8.6 percent. This percentage for employees and self-employed with employees remained stable in that year and is considerably lower at 1.6 percent and 4.5 percent respectively.

Statistics Netherlands' chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen called it remarkable that the incomes of the ever-growing group of freelancers are still lagging. "The income of freelancers is always a bit more erratic than that of employees, because the amount of orders fluctuates, but usually freelancers benefit somewhat more from economic growth than ordinary employees. That effect seems to be missing here", he said, according to broadcaster NOS.

In addition to freelancers, workers with a non-western background, people with lower levels of education, and single people are more at risk of falling below the poverty line.

 

ING ordered to clean up its Italian operation, client freeze imposed

Dutch banking group ING has been told not to acquire any new clients in Italy by the Italian central bank because of flaws in money laundering checks. The Bank of Italy gave the order after a four-month on-site inspection, it said in a statement at the weekend.

ING itself says it will work hard in the coming weeks to tackle the shortcomings and solve the problems which Italian central bank inspectors identified. ‘The measures in Italy come in the context of the steps ING announced in September 2018 to enhance its management of compliance risks and embed stronger awareness across the whole organisation,’ the bank said.

 

Amsterdam pushes €23 mil. Into tackling teacher shortage

Amsterdam is tackling the teacher shortage in the city with extra parking permits, a larger travel allowance, money for teachers coming from other professions, scholarships to improve teams in schools, and 10 thousand euros per director for support, education alderman Marjolein Moorman announced, Het Parool reports.

With this approach the municipality hopes to hire 500 extra full-time teachers by 2023. The teacher shortage in Amsterdam currently stands at 175 full time teachers in primary education. This affects at least 200 classes and 500 pupils, according to the newspaper. If all goes according to plan, this shortage should be solved by 2023.

The city is also working on affordable housing for teachers. An office will be opened that will focus on matching rental housing that is not covered by social rent to public sector employees, including teachers. Most teachers earn just too much to qualify for social housing. The municipality is also investigating whether school buildings can be reallocated for housing for teachers.

Amsterdam is making 5.8 million euros per year available for this approach. That amounts to over 23 million euros for the period 2019 to 2023. Annually, that is a million euros less than the period 2014 to 2018.

 

Netherlands faced its first ever trade deficit in natural gas last year

The Netherlands booked a trade deficit in natural gas for the first time ever last year, Statistics Netherlands reports based on provisional figures. In 2018 a total of 12 billion euros of natural gas was imported, while the export amounted to 9.8 billion euros. The trade deficit thus amounted to 2.1 billion euros.

The fact that the Netherlands imported more gas than it exported last year has to do with gas extraction in Groningen being reduced due to fracking earthquakes in the region. The extraction of natural gas more than halved between 2012 and 2018, according to NU.nl. In the coming years it will be reduced drastically, until no more gas is extracted in Groningen by 2030.

The Netherlands is now using more gas from countries like Norway and Russia. Nearly 56 billion cubic meters of natural gas were important last year, more than double what was imported in 2012.

Between 2000 and 2018, the Netherlands exported a total of 202 billion euros in natural gas. The import value in this period amounted to over 101 billion euros, which means there was a trade surplus of 100 billion euros.

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