2017 Autumn Memorandum: budget surplus of 0.4% and government debt of 57.3%

The budget surplus for 2017 is estimated at 0.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), while the projected government debt in 2017 is 57.3% of GDP. This makes the Netherlands one of four euro countries with both a surplus on the budget and a debt below the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) norm of 60% of GDP. In the eurozone, the average government balance is estimated at -1.1% of GDP and the average government debt at 89.3% of GDP.

This information is set out in the 2017 Autumn Memorandum sent to the House of Representatives by finance minister Wopke Hoekstra. The Autumn Memorandum contains the latest overview of government revenue and expenditure in 2017.

Key budgetary developments in 2017

Based on healthcare insurance claims submitted in the first six months of 2017 and insurers’ estimate of claims to be made in the rest of 2017, expenditure under the Health Insurance Act will be €700 million lower than estimated in the Budget Memorandum. This is partly due to a decrease in spending on mental healthcare, medicines and medical devices.

As previously announced, a sum of €550 million will be made available for reconstruction in St Maarten provided the island’s government fulfils the conditions set by the Netherlands – the creation of an Integrity Chamber and tighter border control. The Netherlands will ensure that this funding is spent effectively. A one-off amount of €67 million will also be made available for reconstruction efforts on Saba and St Eustatius.

Revenue from gift and inheritance tax in 2017 will be €450 million lower than previously estimated, based on actual revenue in the first 10 months of the year. This is related in part to the delayed delivery of a new computer system for gift and inheritance tax processing. Assessments that cannot be issued this year will be issued in 2018. Total revenue from taxes and social insurance contributions in 2017 will be €51 million higher than expected, based on actual revenue in the first 10 months of the year.

Various budgets have been underspent, in particular those of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Finance.