Dutch news in brief, 9 March 2005

9th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

MPs get to vote on Afghan mission

MPs get to vote on Afghan mission

The Cabinet will request Parliament's approval to deploy commandos in Afghanistan to help hunt al-Qaeda terrorists, Foreign Minister Ben Bot said on Tuesday. If there is insufficient support for the mission, Bot said it would be difficult to conceive of it proceeding. Prime Minister Balkenende recently said that the cabinet does not need to seek parliamentary approval for the mission, leading to indignation among MPs. The cabinet decided last month that some 250 soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan The mission is controversial because the troops will be engaged in offensive activities rather than peacekeeping.

Rent liberalisation plan gets  go-ahead

The Parliament has approved Housing Minister Sybilla Dekker's plans to liberalise rent levels. Government coalition parties the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 backed the minister's plans, but opposition parties were fiercely opposed. Dekker initially wanted to give housing corporations more freedom to decide how much rent to charge tenants from next year, but pressure from the CDA and D66 forced her push her plans back to 2008 and only on the condition that enough new houses are built, Radio Netherlands reported. Dekker is allowed to liberalise rents on 600,000 homes in the coming three years, leading to their rents increasing more quickly.

New WAO system from 2006

The Dutch government announced on Tuesday that the new regulating system for the WAO worker disability pension scheme will be implemented from 1 January 2006. It is designed to cut the number of new WAO recipients. From 2006, only people who are assessed to be at least 35 percent incapacitated will be paid a pension, compared with the present system of 15 percent. The pension for fully incapacitated workers will rise from 70 to 75 percent of their last salary.

Economic growth weakens

The Dutch economic recovery weakened at the end of 2004, with 1.3 percent growth recorded in the fourth quarter compared with 1.5 percent in the third quarter, statistics bureau CBS said. Quarterly figures had grown consecutively since the third quarter of 2003, before falling in the fourth quarter last year. The fourth quarter growth in 2004 was 0.1 percent lower the same period a year earlier, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

Police confiscate 'terrorist telephone'

Amsterdam police confiscated a 63-year-old man's telephone on Tuesday after he repeatedly called the 112 emergency number for no reason. Fearing the alarm centre was in danger of becoming inaccessible to genuine callers, the authorities traced the "telephone terrorist". He appeared to be drunk and argumentative, prompting police to confiscate his telephone.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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