Cabinet and MPs lock horns over fuel costs

1st December 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 December 2005, AMSTERDAM — The government and the parliament are sharply divided on the question of whether the public should be compensated for high fuel costs.

1 December 2005

AMSTERDAM — The government and the parliament are sharply divided on the question of whether the public should be compensated for high fuel costs.

A majority of MPs called on Thursday for measures to support households. The government countered by pointing to a report by the macro-economic think tank CPB that predicts high fuel costs will be offset by a decline in healthcare costs due to the new health system coming into force in January. The CPB said on balance the public's purchasing power will increase in 2006.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende discussed the issue with his key ministers, Gerrit Zalm (Finance), Aart Jan de Geus (Social Affairs), and Laurens Jan Brinkhorst (Economic Affairs), on Thursday.

They concluded the oil price would not affect the amount of spending money the public has. The government is to review the situation in spring.

De Geus said after the meeting that the CPB figures gave a much more favourable picture of spending power than had been predicted on Budget Day in September. "The picture is more favourable across the board. "On average employees will have EUR 50 to EUR 100 more," he said. 

A majority in Parliament, consisting of Balkenende's Christian Democrats, the MPs of the small government party D66 and the opposition Labour Party (PvdA), continue to insist the government should give back more money to support the public.

Zalm's Liberal Party (VVD) is against any give away of "extras" to the public.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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