Dutch public debt below EMU target

© Hollandse Hoogte
At the end of Q1 2017, the Netherlands’ government debt stood at 59.6 percent of GDP. It is the first time in six years that public debt falls below 60 percent of GDP. Public debt was lower due to a budget surplus and returns from reducing financial assets. The gross debt ratio also fell due to GDP growth, according to figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
The target set by the European Union stipulates that, calculated over the entire calendar year, government debt should be either below or moving down towards 60 percent of GDP. At the end of 2016, the debt ratio still stood at 61.8 percent. In Q1 2017 it improved by 2.2 percentage points, of which 0.5 percentage point was due to GDP growth. The reduction in domestic debt was equivalent to slightly under 12 billion euros. As a result, public debt stood at nearly 423 billion euros or nearly 25 thousand euros per capita at the end of March. In the June 2017 forecast by the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, public debt is calculated as 58.5 percent of GDP towards the end of 2017.
Government debt, annually and quarterly
 EMU targetDebt-to-GDP ratio
2008 Q16043.5
2008 Q26043.5
2008 Q36044
2008 Q46054.7
2009 Q16057.6
2009 Q26056.7
2009 Q36057.2
2009 Q46056.8
2010 Q16057.6
2010 Q26059.3
2010 Q36059.1
2010 Q46059.3
2011 Q16059.4
2011 Q26060.3
2011 Q36061
2011 Q46061.6
2012 Q16062.4
2012 Q26063.9
2012 Q36065
2012 Q46066.3
2013 Q16066.7
2013 Q26068.4
2013 Q36068
2013 Q46067.8
2014 Q16067.4
2014 Q26068.8
2014 Q36068.2
2014 Q46068
2015 Q16069
2015 Q26066.7
2015 Q36065.8
2015 Q46064.6
2016 Q16064.3
2016 Q26063.2
2016 Q36061.5
2016 Q46061.8
"17 Q16059.6

Lower debt as revenue exceeds expenditure

In Q1 2017 the government was able to cut back public debt because public revenue exceeded public expenditure by more than 5 billion euros. The government was responsible for the largest share in the budget surplus with nearly 4 million euros in revenue. Revenues from both corporate and income taxes increased by around 2.5 billion euros year-on-year, while public expenditure stayed at similar levels.
Public revenue and public expenditure on an annual basis
 Public revenuePublic expenditure
2008 Q1 267.4265.6
2008 Q2272.2270.2
2008 Q3276.8273.6
2008 Q4279.8278.4
2009 Q1 277.8283.3
2009 Q2273.1286
2009 Q3269.8292.7
2009 Q4263.9297.5
2010 Q1 264.1298.5
2010 Q2268.4303.2
2010 Q3268.4303.7
2010 Q4272.6304.1
2011 Q1 275.7303.8
2011 Q2274.2303.3
2011 Q3277.8302.9
2011 Q4274.4302
2012 Q1 275.2302.6
2012 Q2277.5303.1
2012 Q3276.2303.7
2012 Q4278.8303.9
2013 Q1 281.7301.3
2013 Q2284.1301.5
2013 Q3287302.4
2013 Q4286.5302
2014 Q1 285.9305.9
2014 Q2287.3306.9
2014 Q3288.2305.9
2014 Q4291.2306.2
2015 Q1 292.6306.6
2015 Q2291.6306.4
2015 Q3291.8306.4
2015 Q4292.7306.8
2016 Q1 294.5307
2016 Q2300.3307
2016 Q3305.4307.9
2016 Q4307.8305.2
"17 Q1 312.2304.9

Sale of financial assets

Aside from a budget surplus, the sale of public financial assets worth over 6 billion euros further reduced national government debt. Shares in ASR were sold at a value of 0.5 billion euros. Ending interest and currency derivatives yielded over 1 billion euros for central government. In Q1 2017 the government earned over 3 billion euros in taxes which were levied in 2016. In addition, over 3 billion euros in receivables were settled by the European Union. This was the result of an agreement on lower remittances to the EU. Such transactions in financial assets do not affect the budget surplus but do provide revenues which can be used to repay outstanding debts.