In January of this year I visited the Mexican state of Tabasco–a state crossed by rivers and facing the Gulf of Mexico. The state’s population has doubled over the past 30 years and its economy relies heavily on oil and natural gas resources. It has its challenges as well: unemployment, poverty and a lack of resources.
The Netherlands last chaired the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in 1991, a year when advanced economies accounted for nearly two thirds of global GDP and almost two billion people were living in extreme poverty. The world looks very different today. Emerging markets now account for more than half of global GDP and the number of people living in extreme poverty is down to one billion. This Millennium Development Goal has been reached, and that is good news. There is still a formidable challenge ahead, however, in the areas of poverty reduction, sustainability and inclusivity.
Social entrepreneurs and governments speak different languages. However, understanding each other is essential to achieve quality of life through the businesses we start, grow and scale. While sharing a goal for a healthier society, it remains a challenge for new entrepreneurs and governments to work together: first, to integrate the different ambitions, values and cultures of (social) entrepreneurs, civil servants and politicians; second, to be aligned in the acceptance, timing and implementation of societal solutions through enterprising citizens. What is the role of business in creating spaces for social entrepreneurship and a more collaborative economy?
This year’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, which we are honoured to chair, will address the issue of investment. The timing could not be better. Growth prospects have improved, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Investment has been hit especially hard since the crisis started and has yet to recover. At the same time, the need for investment has never been greater, since we are facing serious challenges on issues like climate, infrastructure, water, the digital economy and human capital. Luckily, the circumstances are quite favourable to investment. We need a common effort from all players, public and private, to unlock investment for sustainable growth and jobs. The OECD Forum, which precedes the ministerial meeting, provides a perfect opportunity to initiate this approach. In advanced economies, private-sector investment has declined by 25% on average compared with pre-crisis forecasts.
Since 1997 the Netherlands has had a tax allowance scheme aimed at promoting investments in energy-saving technologies and sustainable energy production. This so-called Energy Investment Tax Allowance, or EIA to the Dutch, reduces up-front investment costs for firms investing in the newest energy-saving and sustainable energy technologies. The basic design of the EIA has remained the same over the past 15 years: firms investing in technologies listed in an annually updated “energy list” may deduct some of the investment costs from their taxable profits.
Netherlands Snapshot 2013
Find key economic figures and trends for Netherlands from OECD Yearbook 2013
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