Jan Meerman (INretail): ‘Solutions no longer come from The Hague, so look for it locally’

Nitrogen, energy, corona, rent increases. Entrepreneurs are stringing together the problems. But they have less and less to count on help from national politics, says INretail foreman Jan Meerman in his expert blog. ‘We are less and less looking for solutions in The Hague, but much more at a local level.’

Jacco Vonhof (chairman of MKB-Nederland, ed.) put it aptly recently: there are sensible people in The Hague, but they are no longer able to make sensible decisions. I share that feeling. We have so many big problems, but we all can no longer come up with good solutions, it seems.

I find the most poignant example to be the energy problem, as a result of which more and more people are finding it difficult to pay the rising energy bill. What is the cabinet thinking? We give everyone 190 euros twice. But what does that mean? A very large group does not need that money at all and the group that does need it receives far too little.

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No customization delivered for two years

Because we have a very fragmented political landscape, we throw all the problems in a blender, press the button for a long time and come up with a solution that does not please anyone. Take the corona compensation, for example. In general, that was a good measure, but if you look more closely, you see that no customization has been delivered for two years. Hundreds of entrepreneurs, for example, who had just started and were not eligible for anything, have therefore ended up between two stools. 

The intention was good, but The Hague was unable to organize the implementation in such a way that everyone was helped. Compared to five or ten years ago, my conclusion is that the solutions for a good business climate no longer come from The Hague. So we have to come up with our own solutions to our problems. On a micro level and in places that are in our sphere of influence, without being dependent on the choices of politics.

Zero on demand in the real estate sector

I also see that in retail. Take a current example, such as the rental file. At least half of the landlords increase the rent one to one with the 14.5 percent inflation correction. Then I really think: how dare you ask? However, we cannot make an agreement with the real estate sector that the core inflation figure will be chosen, for example. That is the inflation rate, but without the increase in energy costs. This is much fairer than the normal inflation correction, because the tenant is already paying for the costs through his increased energy bill. But when we ask for core inflation, more than half of the mainly large parties have no answer. The sad result is that more and more voices are being raised to litigate.

Individuals build bridges

But luckily I also see solutions, especially where individuals bridge the gap. For example, tenants often know the SME landlords, because there is a personal element. They do sit around the table, because they literally run into each other in the shopping street. That’s where you find the compromises. Unfortunately, that is much less successful with an irresponsible landlord with often foreign shareholders,

Who have no feeling at all with an individual shopkeeper from, say, Utrecht or Hilversum. I want to say to those entrepreneurs who get into trouble: if you are obliged to pay the rent, accept it for a short period of time and think about whether you still want to stay here. These rent increases will haunt you for years to come. And indicate that you cannot pay. For you ten others? That is the question.

Look for the solution locally

Our role is also changing in this way. We are less and less looking for solutions in The Hague, but much more at a local level. Then, for example, we sit around the table with the local administrators in the municipality. I don’t have to explain to the mayor and aldermen what the local situation is and what an empty shopping street does to their city. That requires a different way of working and that is customization.

Often enough I hear people say: if only we had this before or why only now that. But entrepreneurs are creative and always come up with innovative ideas. Therefore, I would like to close with a fitting saying that recently came to my attention: the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today. We cannot change what should have happened. So start today.

I am a professional writer and blogger.

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