Dutch government surplus 14 billion euros in 2019

In 2019, the Dutch government posted a budget surplus of 14 billion euros. This is equivalent to 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Public debt declined to 48.6 percent of GDP. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of new public finance figures.

The general government balance and debt are the main indicators for current public finance conditions. The European excessive debt procedure (EDP) allow a maximum deficit of 3 percent of GDP and a maximum debt level of 60 percent of GDP.
The surplus in 2019 is 3.5 billion euros higher than in 2018, when it stood at 10.6 billion euros or 1.4 percent of GDP. Last year, the Dutch government achieved a surplus for the fourth consecutive year. The total surplus over these four years combined was 34 billion euros. Over the past few years, the realised surpluses consistently exceeded those projected in the government budgets.

Government balance, moving annual total (% of GDP)
JaarBalanceEMU criterion
19990.3-3
20001.2-3
2001-0.5-3
2002-2.1-3
2003-3.1-3
2004-1.8-3
2005-0.4-3
20060.1-3
2007-0.1-3
20080.2-3
2009-5.1-3
2010-5.2-3
2011-4.4-3
2012-3.9-3
2013-2.9-3
2014-2.2-3
2015-2.0-3
20160.0-3
2017*1.3-3
2018*1.4-3
2019*1.7-3
* provisional figures

Gross debt ratio below 50 percent

The gross debt ratio (government debt as a percentage of GDP) came out at 48.6 percent at the end of 2019. This is nearly 20 percentage points lower than the highest gross debt ratio reached as a result of the credit crisis at the end of 2013. At the end of 2007 - before the outbreak of the credit crisis - the gross debt ratio was 43 percent of GDP. At the time, the debt in euros was substantially lower at 266 billion euros than the amount end of 2019 of nearly 395 billion euros. The effect on the debt-to-GDP ratio is partly compensated by a rise in GDP (i.e. the denominator effect).
By the end of 2019, the Dutch national debt had declined by 11 billion euros on one year previously. The surplus of 14 billion euros was therefore not fully utilised towards government debt repayments. Part of the surplus was utilised towards the acquisition of shares in Air France-KLM and loan provisions. Another part of the surplus was invested in deposits, resulting in an additional deposited amount of nearly 2 billion euros.

Debt-to-GDP ratio (% of GDP)
JaarDebt-to-GDP ratioEMU criterion
199958.660
200052.160
200149.460
200248.860
20035060
200450.360
200549.860
200645.260
20074360
200854.760
200956.860
201059.260
201161.760
201266.260
201367.760
201467.860
201564.660
201661.960
2017*56.960
2018*52.460
2019*48.660
* provisional figures

Tax and social security burden further  up

Public revenue rose by 5.0 percent to over 354 billion euros. The taxes and social contributions, which constitute nearly 90 percent of public revenue, increased by 18 billion euros. Economic growth and the raised lower VAT rate accounted for more than one-quarter of the increase in VAT revenues (over 5 billion euros). The wage and income taxes were raised by 3 billion euros. Employer’s insurance contributions and basic care contributions combined resulted in over 4 billion euros in extra public revenues. Private companies also paid over 2 billion euros more in corporate taxes, resulting in double the amount of annual corporate tax revenues last year compared to the period 2009-2013.
Dividend taxes yielded over one-third more relative to 2018 due to an increase of almost 2 billion euros. Furthermore, there was a substantial increase in environmental taxes last year. This was mainly due to the sustainable energy surcharge (ODE levy) and surrendered CO2 emission allowances.
The tax and social security burden rose further last year to 38.8 percent of GDP. This is the highest level on record since the implementation of the present measuring method in 1995.

Tax and social security burden (% of GDP)
JaarTax and social security burden
199936.8
200036.5
200135.2
200234.8
200334.5
200434.5
200534.7
200635.7
200735.2
200835.6
200934.8
201035.2
201135.1
201235.3
201335.8
201436.7
201536.5
201638
2017*38.3
2018*38.3
2019*38.8
* provisional figures


Non-tax revenues fell by over 1 billion euros relative to 2018. This was mainly due to lower natural gas revenues. A settlement agreement between the government and ING Bank IN 2018 contributed towards higher public revenues that year.

Sharp rise in expenditure

At 4.1 percent, last year’s increase in public spending was slightly below the level of the public revenue increase and ended at 340 billion euros. After government expenditure stabilised over the years 2010-2016, a rise was seen as of 2017. Half of the rise in expenditure in 2019 went to benefits and to care (7 billion euros). Remuneration of government employees rose by 3 billion euros. The interest burden declined further by 0.6 billion euros, and now represents slightly over 2 percent of total public expenditure.

Government revenue and expenditure (bn euros)
JaarRevenueExpenditure
2000195.9190.6
2001204.4206.6
2002207.7218.4
2003212.3228.4
2004220.4230.1
2005230.5232.7
2006251.7251.2
2007261.6262.1
2008280.3279.0
2009265.5297.3
2010272.4305.9
2011275.5304.3
2012279.7305.3
2013287.9307.3
2014292.7307.2
2015293.9307.8
2016308.8308.7
2017*322.6313.3
2018*337.4326.9
2019*354.3340.2
* provisional figures

Downward adjustment of 2018 government surplus

The government surplus as recorded over 2018 has been adjusted downwards by almost 1 billion euros, equivalent to 0.1 percent of GDP, from the level that was published previously by CBS. It now stands at 10.6 billion euros or 1.4 percent of GDP. This downward adjustment is based on newly obtained data from municipal accounts and on care expenditure, which have now been processed into the figures. Figures over reporting year 2019 do not yet reflect any effects of the countermeasures implemented against COVID-19.