Netherlands: state aid for multinationals?
The international hotel booking website booking.com is requesting millions of dollars in state aid due to the corona crisis. According to media reports the company deliberately neglected to create reserves in order to keep its share price at an artificially high level. Journalists in the Netherlands, where the company has its headquarters, are seething with anger.
Taxpayers left holding the bag
This is bitter, De Volkskrant complains, calling on the government to finally intervene:
“The fact that the same company has been benefiting from huge tax advantages for years and the CEO is collecting around 20 million euros a year makes the whole affair even more annoying. It's too late for anything to be done about it now. ... But later on new financial terms must be imposed on companies. Normal taxation is not an option for large companies anyway. And these measures are necessary if only to prevent the costs of such bailouts from being passed on to normal taxpayers for years to come.”
Shameless oligarchs stand to benefit
NRC Handelsblad columnist and Russia expert Hubert Smeets warns that Europe could follow in Russia's footsteps:
“In such emergency situations governments have no choice but to pay huge sums of money and hope that after the bailout employment and tax revenues will go up again. ... But if the state fails to attach conditions to these subsidies - or attaches the wrong ones - entrepreneurs who follow the rules of post-Soviet oligarch Boris Berezovsky will be the first to benefit. Oligarchs for whom double standards are the only moral standards. ... If we fail to nip such highway robbers in the bud, Russia is our future.”