Dutch Fin Min Dijsselbloem: I take S&P downgrade seriously

Friday, 29 Nov 2013 | 3:05 AM ET
We take downgrade 'seriously': Dutch Minister
Friday, 29 Nov 2013 | 3:00 AM ET
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch finance minister, says he takes the S&P ratings downgrade of the Netherlands "seriously".

The Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has told CNBC he takes the downgrade of his country's credit rating by Standard & Poor's seriously, and insisted the country was pushing ahead with economic reforms.

"I take these ratings seriously because the market takes them seriously," he said on Friday, after S&P lowered its credit rating for the Netherlands to "AA plus" from "AAA."

"It just confirms the need for us to push forward some of these reforms so that we can get bigger and better growth figures," he added.

(Read more: S&P cuts Netherlands rating, raises outlook for Spain)

The credit rating agency said the country's economic growth prospects were weaker than anticipated, but maintained its outlook for the country at stable.

Two other ratings agencies - Moody's and Fitch - had only recently affirmed their AAA ratings for the Netherlands, Dijsselbloem stressed.

S&P forecast that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) would contract by 1.2 percent in 2013, before growing by 0.5 percent in 2014.

(Read more: 'Abysmal' Dutch economy threatens euro zone recovery)

These forecasts are in line with the predictions of the Dutch government, Dijsselbloem said, but added: "0.5 percent is not strong enough and is exactly why we're working on a program of reforms."

The Dutch government was "dealing with a number of structural issues in our economy such as the labor market, housing market, and pensions, and these are the main factors that are holding back our economic recovery," he said.

His comments come amid concerns about the housing market in the Netherlands, with some analysts saying a severe housing correction would further dampen consumer spending and extend the country's recession.

"We are changing our policy, especially on a tax reduction in the housing market... We are expecting the housing market to start picking up as of next year, and a lot of households have been able to make down payments on their mortgages over the last couple of years," Dijsselbloem added.

(Read more: Debt-crippled Dutch wake up to housing crash)


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