My world deserves better!
Of course we knew that she would be given a raw deal. She had to implement severe cut-backs and what was left of her budget was likely to be claimed aggressively by the Dutch ‘top sectors’, which had already been waiting impatiently for two years for a chance to get a large part of the development budget. Logical, since these nine sectors - selected by previous the Ministry of Economic Affairs to put The Netherlands on the international map - had been given no budget.
Well, it seems the top sectors will finally get their long-expected budget. And even more than that. The Dutch government is guaranteeing that it will defend the interests of the top sectors as investors, while it has been shown that current investment treaties, harm the interests of developing countries. Furthermore, Dutch investors can continue to ‘legally’ evade taxes. Despite the growing public awareness and indignation about The Netherlands’ role as a tax haven, the only – reluctant - reference made about this in the policy document is that our government is going to do "research". That’s all.
The top sectors are not expected to do much in return. Of course they have to be willing to operate in a socially responsible manner, but nobody in the government will ever check if they do. In fact, plenty of public money will be made available to support their efforts. They’re expected to create jobs, for which our government will adopt ‘minimal social criteria '. Firm guarantees that will protect human rights are put on the sidelines for the sake of convenience.
The policy document does not make clear why our companies should create those jobs. Aren’t there plenty of entrepreneurial people around the world who’d love to do that themselves? But in that case we should change the rules of the game. Trade and investment treaties are now especially favoring multinationals and our own Dutch trade and economy. They block the development of low-imcome countries and emerging economies, not only economically, but also socially and environmentally. Unlike the Norwegian government, the Dutch policy document of the VVD-PvdA government does not put the adaptation of those rules on its agenda.
Meanwhile, the question is what the new Ministry of Trade and Aid is going to do in the coming years. Apparently it will mainly facilitate and do a lot of 'research', without drawing the due consequences from it. With this policy document, the Minister does not only completely give up the financial control of the controversial ‘Dutch Good Growth Fund’ (it seems like distribution is less important than growth after all), but also that of climate funding. And human rights will primarily be the responsibility of NGOs who, by the way, will have to do this work without support for good governance.
When public funds are scarce it is all the more important to use them strategically: to strengthen the most vulnerable groups and to protect the environment. The document currently presented by our government is doing exactly the opposite. It’s the result of the current political climate in the Netherlands, which does not hesitate to arrogantly prescribe ‘what the world deserves’ and then shamelessly continues to defend our own country’s interests.
Reaction FGG on document Ploumen (Dutch)
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