Bos demands budget cut 'thank you'
21 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet should give EUR 200 back to everyone in the Netherlands this year by offering a discount on their ziekenfonds public health insurance payments, Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos has said.
21 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — The Cabinet should give EUR 200 back to everyone in the Netherlands this year by offering a discount on their ziekenfonds public health insurance payments, Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos has said.
But government coalition parties the Liberal VVD, Christian Democrat CDA and Democrat D66 were quick to criticise the proposal.
D66 leader Boris Dittrich was opposed to a rebate for everyone and said economic windfalls should instead be used to compensate middle-income earners, which would offer the best economic boost.
He also said school fees for 16-year-olds should be scrapped and families should receive more funding for childcare costs. Dittrich said many women who want to work simply opt out because childcare costs are too expensive compared with what they will earn.
The CDA said Bos wanted to use money that the Netherlands didn't have. MP Frans de Nerée pointed out that the nation was already facing a budget deficit that would remain in the red for the immediate future, news service 'NOS' reported.
The Liberal VVD said it was in favour of tax relief, but said savings must also be offered in exchange. It said Bos had come forward with a cheque that would only bounce. "That is socialist squandering," MP Stef Blok said.
Bos sparked the debate on Monday after he said the recent financial windfalls the government had earned should be paid back to taxpayers. He said such a payment was only fair and would offset rising healthcare insurance costs.
The opposition leader said middle-income earners should primarily benefit because they have suffered equally in recent years with low-income earners.
Besides the EUR 200, Bos is also suggesting that extra funds be allocated to working families and the public sector, newspaper 'De Telegraaf' reported on Monday.
Families should benefit from cheaper school books, lower school fees and family tax deductions. In addition, extra funding should be allocated to the public sector to prop up youth care services, VMBO vocational secondary education and nursing homes.
The Dutch cabinet has embarked on a tough cost-cutting scheme in recent years to meet the strict eurozone budgetary regulations. But the Netherlands met the conditions with room to spare and Bos said the government's cost-cutting was too extreme and that Dutch taxpayers deserved a payment in return.
Bos said EUR 1.5 billion should be paid back to taxpayers, raising this year's budget deficit to 2.2 percent of national income, slightly more than the forecast 2 percent. Prior to reforms agreed on Sunday, eurozone states were required by the Growth and Stability Pact to consistently run budgets under 3 percent.
The cabinet was already planning to offer budgetary sweeteners next year in the lead-up to elections in 2007, but Bos said the nation did not want to wait so long. He also said the extra spending could create 20,000 jobs.
Most parties agree that budget sweeteners in 2006 should come in the form of tax relief, news service 'NOS' reported.
The Central Planning Bureau (CPB) will release new economic figures on Tuesday. Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has already said that the actual economic climate is more favourable than previous "gloomy" CPB figures.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news