Dutch companies to improve infrastructure in developing countries

The Dutch business community is getting more and more involved in improving infrastructure in developing countries. Knowledge and expertise in the fields of water management, health care, transport and energy will be engaged to improve everyday life for ordinary people.

To make this possible, development minister Bert Koenders and minister for foreign trade Frank Heemskerk have come up with a new scheme known as ORIO (development-related infrastructure improvement). Of the annual budget of €120 million, about half will go to the poorest countries. The new ORIO scheme replaces the former ORET scheme for development-related export transactions.

The new scheme aims at multiyear cooperative ventures, a substantial part of which will be devoted to teaching and training local authority staff. Dutch businesses may continue to produce new initiatives, but the demand in the developing country itself remains all-important. Small and medium-sized firms will have a particularly significant part to play. Koenders is convinced that the new scheme will help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and promote economic growth – two of the minister’s policy priorities.

A smaller number of countries stand to benefit from ORIO and a limited number of sectors will receive support. China and India will cease to be eligible as their prosperity and competitiveness increase. Instead, a separate programme will be started up for these two countries by the Ministry of Economic Affairs with an annual budget of €20 million.

Promising countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Peru, Algeria, Morocco, Serbia and Montenegro will, however, be eligible for the new scheme, which is due to start up in 2009. An implementation agency will decide on behalf of the minister which projects are development-related.