Critical questions also came from other invitees. “I am positive about the fund, it is necessary to invest in the future,” says Janneke Niessen, of tech investment fund CapitalT. But she also sees problems. “There is a lack of a clear strategy and vision for the fund in which choices are made. What is important and in which area do we want to lead?”
Paul de Krom, chairman of the board of TNO, thinks the cabinet’s step to invest 20 billion euros in the future, prosperity and well-being is brave. He still has doubts about what the fund is now adding: “When it comes to top sectors and innovation policy, we have built a nice racing car in recent years. The cabinet is putting the 20 billion extra fuel in there. But the question is: is the cabinet not building a completely new car? As TNO, we have a lot of knowledge in-house about which factors influence the chance of successful innovation. Make sure we don’t start all over again. “
These are all criticisms that are not new. Earlier, both the Court of Audit and the Council of State issued a critical report. Both are advisory bodies to the cabinet, which assess whether government policy complies with the law and whether money is being spent properly.
For example, the Court of Audit notes that there are already many comparable funds and schemes in existence and wonders what this fund will add. The Council of State points out that the cabinet has not set clear targets for spending the money from the fund, although this is required by law.
This legal obligation has a clear reason: “This prevents money from looking for a destination and money from being spent ineffectively. It also makes it clear to parliament what the government can control.” The council warns that it is therefore not possible to check whether the money is being properly channeled. The final advice to the cabinet was clear: do not submit this plan.
MPs full of questions
MPs themselves are also still looking for answers to important questions, it turned out during the hearing. Questions about what the money should be spent on, what goals the government should choose and what should be left to the business community itself.
What is the business community not capable of now, and the fund can, asked CDA MP Mustafa Amhaouch to investor Niessen. What are we good at in the Netherlands, VVD MP Dennis Wiersma wanted to know from ASML top executive Jos Benschop. “I am curious: what strengths does the Netherlands want to expand and utilize so that we can make a difference worldwide? And in which markets does our country want to be active?”
These are questions that need to be answered quickly. The intention is that next Sunday the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science, Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and Infrastructure and Water Management will submit plans for the Fund’s assessment committee to consider.