He said there would be a “historic” economic contraction of 5% in 2020 while the government's budget will slump from a surplus to a deficit of 7% in a year and unemployment is forecast to double.
While the Dutch budget will underscore the devastating impact of the virus outbreak, the four-party coalition led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte will not deliver only bad economic news - it faces national elections next year and will be keen to give voters something positive ahead of the vote.
Rutte’s coalition already has pumped billions of euros into propping up hard-hit sectors of the economy in an attempt to safeguard jobs. It also is investing in programs to help people who lose their jobs find work in other professions such as health care and education.
Measures to rein in the virus outbreak meant that the pageantry that normally accompanies the traditional state opening of Parliament was dialed back significantly to ensure lawmakers adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines.
There was no horse-drawn carriage ride through the city by the king and no joint meeting of the two houses of the Dutch parliament in the historic Knights Hall. Instead, lawmakers gathered in a church near parliament for the king's speech.
The Dutch budget announcement comes a day after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that the gross domestic product in the world's 20 major industrialized nations dropped by a record 6.9% in the second quarter from the previous three-month period.
The Dutch statistics office said in August that the national economy suffered an unprecedented 8.5% contraction in the second quarter, calling it “an economic catastrophe of exceptional proportions.”
Usually, thousands of people line the streets and gather outside a palace in the city to catch a glimpse of the royal family, but this year police and local officials have urged people to stay away.
Early Tuesday, there was just one man standing outside the Noordeinde Palace.
Resplendent in orange suit, tie and shoes and a black hat with gold bow and protected by a homemade “corona bumper" decorated with a model carriage, Johan Vlemmix said he drove three hours to get to The Hague, as he has done every budget day for more than 20 years.
“It's surreal,” he said. “You see the red carpet has been rolled out, the king has arrived and there's nobody here. I've never experienced this.”
Later, he was joined at the palace gates by about 100 people to watch the king and his wife, Queen Maxima, get into a limousine to be driven to the Great Church.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
Resplendent in orange suit, tie and shoes and a black hat with gold bow and protected by a homemade "corona bumper" decorated with a model carriage, Johan Vlemmix, center, stands in front of Royal Palace Noordeinde, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Vlemmix drove three hours to get to The Hague, as he has done every budget day for more than 20 years, to watch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima appear on the palace balcony, rear. The balcony appearance of the king and queen has been cancelled due to COVID-19 related measures. "It's surreal," he said. "You see the red carpet has been rolled out, the king has arrived and there's nobody here. I've never experienced this. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
Credit: Mike Corder
Credit: Mike Corder