Deputy Minister slams Wilders aid cut plea
“Never ever” was the response from Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Henk Bleker to calls by Geert Wilders’ for Dutch development aid to be slashed by four billion euros.
The cabinet previously said that it would be deciding early next year whether a fresh round of cuts is necessary. But on Thursday that he would only vote in favour of any further cutbacks if the government reduced the development cooperation budget by four billion euros. It was a shot across the bows to the minority cabinet, which relies on Mr Wilder’s far-right Freedom Party for support in parliament.
The Christian Democrat deputy minister’s outright rejection of Mr Wilders’ suggestion came in an interview on public service radio on Saturday. “If the line is to be drawn anywhere – though we haven’t got that far yet – it could be over a matter like this,” Mr Bleker said.
As junior coalition partner, the Christian Democrat party recently supported a motion in the Lower House calling on the government to stick to the international agreement to devote 0.7 percent of GDP to development cooperation.
The cabinet has already announced a 900 million euro development aid cut for 2012. However, this will still leave the development cooperation budget above 0.7 percent of GDP, at 4.4 billion euros.
Mr Wilders’ proposal for a further four billion euro cut would leave just 0.07 percent of GDP – ten times lower than the internationally agreed limit.
mb © Radio Netherlands Worldwide
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide