Dutch news in brief – 8 April

8th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

Government keeps a close eye on Iraq

Government keeps a close eye on Iraq

The Dutch government is keeping a close eye on the situation in Iraq, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Gerrit Zalm has said. "We are concerned," Zalm conceded after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. The Netherlands has about 1,300 marines stationed in a southern province in Iraq, which seems to have largely escaped the bloody battles between Shia and Sunni militants on one side and the US-led coalition on the other.

Dutch critical of EU customs co-operation

The Dutch government has criticised EU member states for paying insufficient attention to the importance of co-operation between customs services to fight organised crime. The Netherlands said it will use the opportunity when it holds the EU rotating presidency in the last six months of this year to boost Europol's role in customs. It claims that the growing interest criminals are showing in cross-border smuggling means that Europol and customs are perfect partners to fight such crime. It urged for more EU states to appoint customs liaison officers to Europol's headquarters in The Hague, newspaper European Voice reported.

MP apologies for apartheid gibe

Somali-born MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali of the Liberal VVD party has apologised in Parliament to the Christian Democrat CDA for likening the Christian party's education policy to apartheid. In an article in newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, Hirsi Ali wrote that the CDA insistence on maintaining Article 23 of the Constitution — which guarantees freedom of education — was leading to segregation in the school system. The VVD wants to end the phenomenon of separate "white" and "black" schools.

Inflation at lowest level since 1989

Inflation in the Netherlands continues to fall. The 1.1 percent recorded for March was the lowest value since August 1989, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said on Thursday. The decrease was mainly caused by lower prices for food. Non-alcoholic drinks, clothes and shoes also fell in price. Petrol and tobacco had an upwards effect on inflation, the CBS said.

Bomb scare at highest apartment complex

A bomb threat forced the temporary evacuation of the highest apartment complex in the Netherlands on Thursday. The threat was made at about 2pm and police ordered the evacuation of the 141m-high Westpoint complex in Tilburg. No suspicious package was found and the all-clear was given at about 3pm. The Netherlands has confronted a series of bomb scares since the Madrid bombings last month.

Cabinet cuts business admin costs

The Cabinet approved on Thursday a proposal to reduce administrative hassles for companies in a bid to save them EUR 3 billion in the coming period. The proposal from Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm and Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst involved 130 measures designed to reduce the EUR 16.4 billion in administration costs by 18 percent. The government accord signed last year included an agreement to cut costs by 25 percent and further measures will be taken in the 2005 Budget, news agency Novum reported.

Sport and porn to stay for jail inmates

The Justice Ministry has confirmed it does not have any definite intention to deprive prison inmates of their Canal+ TV cable connection, meaning they can temporarily continue to watch Premier League football, films and pornography to their heart's content. Various media reports said on Thursday the ministry intended to cancel the Canal + subscription. A ministry official said jails wanted to show greater professionalism and one option was to do away with the subscription. But no firm decisions have been made.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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