Has the Outbreak Management Team gained too much power?

Has the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) that advises the government in the fight against the coronavirus gained too much power? Bas Jacobs, professor of Public Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, is angry with the increased power of the OMT and believes that politicians themselves should start thinking more about the measures that should be taken.

Clear division 

In an interview with NPO Radio 1, Bas Jacobs gives his opinion on the roles of the OMT and politicians. First of all, Jacobs states that he is not against the OMT nor against advising the government, but he does believe that there should be a clear division of roles. According to Jacobs, the OMT has played too much politics so far and this is not what the OMT is for. The final decision on the measures that should be taken should always be decided by the government.

'There are huge interests at stake' 

Many questions surrounding the policy of the corona crisis, including the most important question of whether there should be a hard lockdown, are not only health questions, but also questions that concern the economy, individual freedom and civil rights. There are huge interests at stake and a few health experts simply cannot know these interests, says Jacobs. ‘Those interests must be weighed against each other by the government.’

Seperate normative views from the positive analysis 

According to Jacobs, the right way to advise is to get involved in the policy debate, and to separate your normative views on how something should be from the positive analysis that shows what is happening at the moment and what is going on, regardless of the sector. ‘We need this positive analysis to provide good policy advice,' says Jacobs. ‘But the final assessment of what needs to be done should not be made by experts, it should always be made by politicians.’

Professor
More information

The full item from NPO Radio 1, 12 October 2020, can be found here (in Dutch). 

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