The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte “does not want to end up like Belgium”, he said during a press conference on Saturday. He had to defend his plan to scrap the tax on dividends. “Belgium now only has one international company: InBey. All the others have left”, he added.
The Dutch Prime Minister wants to scrap the tax on dividends between now and 2019. Businesses in the Netherlands currently pay 15% tax on the dividends they pay to shareholders, but Mark Rutte believes it is damaging his country’s competitiveness.
However, the opposition is refusing to abolish a measure that would lose the Netherlands an estimated 1.4 million euros a year. The parties say it would be a “handout to multinational companies”.
“If the Netherlands don’t get rid of the tax, it will end up like Belgium. Belgium provides an example of what happens when we don’t change things in time”, Mr Rutte said during a press conference and an interview with NOS on Saturday.
“Belgium now only has one international company: InBey. All the others have left. And there were a lot”, he continued.
Mark Rutte did not want to say which businesses might be leaving the Netherlands, but the Financieel Dagblad mentioned Shell and Unilever.
The Dutch Prime Minister’s statements show he is “very badly informed” about Belgium, says the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel’s cabinet. Mr Rutte “knows AB InBey but he has never heard of Solvay, UCB, Bekaert, Umicore and many others. They are big Belgian companies who are renowned world-wide in their domain”.
“This is a very clumsy reaction to a difficult debate in the Netherlands”, says Barend Leyts, Charles Michel’s spokesman.
He said that Belgium is still very attractive for foreign investors, and mentioned the planned reduction in business tax.