Minister Koenders in the Dutch parliament: The Health Insurance Fund is a good example of an innovative financial method for supporting the poor in developing countries.
The debate in parliament focused on the question if it was more effective to strengthen the financial sector in developing countries by investing in official government structures (top-down) or by contracting with private partners (bottom-up). Member of Parliament Arend-Jan Boekenstijn of the VVD (liberal party) expressed his enthusiasm for the Minister’s plan to invest more in the bottom-up structure. He mentioned micro-credits as a good way of setting up a financial system from within the population.
On the other hand Member of Parliament Ewout Irrgang of the SP (Socialist Party) wondered whether the Minister kept in mind that governments provide the much needed stability in which financial systems can flourish. He did not, however, reject the use of private partners, but he wanted the Minister’s assurance that enough will be done to improve the financial sector through governments. Foremost, as he believes that the financial crisis will affect the structures of these countries even more.
Overall a consensus existed among the different parties that the use of private partners can effectively improve the financial sector of the developing countries and thus improve the entry to financial services for the poor. Especially after Minister Koenders explained that in his eyes investments in both structures, bottom-up as well as top-down, are needed. However, Koenders believes that effective support can only be reached by a tailor-made approach. The inclusion of private partners can contribute to a more sustainable development approach for many countries.