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Dutch natural Gas Revenues and Fiscal Policy: Theory versus Practice

Listed author(s):
  • Peter Wierts
  • Guido Schotten

The Dutch government's revenues from natural gas fluctuate heavily and will dry up within several decades. According to the academic literature, only the permanent return on gas wealth should be included as income on the government's annual budget. This would prevent a deterioration in net wealth, and provide the budget with a stable source of income from which future generations can also benefit. On the basis of conservative estimates, it follows from our calculations that the Netherlands could count on a permanent annual flow of receipts of around 2.5 billion. In practice, however, gas revenues are included directly in the budget, while a part is reserved for investments via the Economic Structure Reinforcement Fund (Fonds Economische Structuurversterking). Using gas revenues for debt reduction, higher spending or lower taxes are political choices made anew by every new government. Our estimation results for the period 1975-2007 show that of a 1% of GDP rise/fall in gas revenues, 0.8 percentage point goes to easing/tightening policy and 0.2 percentage points to an increase/decrease of the budget balance. In the light of the recent fluctuations in oil and gas prices, preserving the stock of wealth from natural gas resources should become more important for the budgetary treatment of gas revenues in the Netherlands.

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Paper provided by Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department in its series DNB Occasional Studies with number 605.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Handle: RePEc:dnb:dnbocs:605
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  1. Peter Wierts, 2007. "The sustainability of euro area debt: a re-assessment," DNB Working Papers 134, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  2. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior of U. S. Public Debt and Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963.
  3. Steven A Barnett & Rolando Ossowski, 2002. "Operational Aspects of Fiscal Policy in Oil-Producing Countries," IMF Working Papers 02/177, International Monetary Fund.
  4. van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2006. "Challenges and Opportunities for Resource Rich Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 5688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. H. Takizawa & E. H. Gardner & Kenichi Ueda, 2004. "Are Developing Countries Better Off Spending Their Oil Wealth Upfront?," IMF Working Papers 04/141, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Rolando Ossowski & Steven A Barnett & James Daniel & Jeffrey M. Davis, 2001. "Stabilization and Savings Funds for Nonrenewable Resources," IMF Occasional Papers 205, International Monetary Fund.
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