Dutch investment fund important shift towards more economic stimulus in EU: analyst

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THE HAGUE, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Dutch government's plan to set up an investment fund marks an important shift towards more economic stimulus in the European Union (EU), according to an analyst.

"The new investment fund would be an important development in Europe. Obviously, it will take a while before it reaches the real economy, but it could play an important role in increasing potential growth," Carsten Brzeski, Chief Economist at Dutch bank ING Germany, told Xinhua.

Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra unveiled plans to create an investment fund "to invest more in innovation, knowledge development and infrastructure" when presenting next year's government budget earlier this week. He referred to the low-interest rate and low productivity growth as reasons for a fund in order to strengthen the Dutch economy's long-term growth potential.

The Dutch government's move came as European institutions and the European Central Bank (ECB) increasingly urge Eurozone countries with the capacity to spend to deploy stronger economic stimulus to tackle the economy's slowdown.

ECB President Mario Draghi sent a strong message, following the Eurozone's central bank decision to cut interest rates to record low last week.

"In view of the weakening economic outlook and the continued prominence of downside risks," he called upon governments with fiscal space to "act in an effective and timely manner." More precisely, he said "as a matter of fact I understand the Dutch Government has a 50-billion (euro) investment program and that's a good time to activate it."

So far the Dutch government has given no precise figures on the size of the investment fund. Hoekstra indicated the fund could be worth "several tens of billions," but said more precise announcements would only come in early 2020, when the government is expected to present a blueprint of the fund to the parliament. Enditem

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