May 18, 7:10 AM EDT

Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem says Dutch national debt declined last year for the first time since 2006 as the economy reaped the benefits of reforms and recovered from the global economic turmoil of recent years


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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The Dutch finance minister says the country's national debt declined last year for the first time since 2006 as the economy reaped the benefits of reforms and recovered from the global economic turmoil of recent years.

According to figures released Wednesday, 2015 national debt was 442 billion euros, 10 billion less than the previous year. The debt equals 65.1 percent of gross domestic product.

The improvement came despite the Netherlands pumping less natural gas last year due to concerns over a spate of minor earthquakes in towns and villages built above reserves.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem says that government finances "don't yet have the top fitness of Dafne Schippers," the Dutch 200-meter world champion. "But all in all the 2015 annual report shows the returns of the tough measures of recent years."

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