Dutch news in brief, Friday 10 October 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.
10 October 2008
The Netherlands provides EUR 20B to banks
Most of Friday’s newspapers lead with the EUR 20 billion the Netherlands is providing to its financial institutions. Nrc.next simply prints the figure ‘20,000,000,000’ in red above its front page.
De Volkskrant says the money is offered to the banking and insurance sectors who need assistance. The emergency fund is intended to restore trust between banks, which, as elsewhere in the world, recently stopped lending to each other. The paper quotes Finance Minister Wouter Bos, "The old Dutch saying rings true: money has to keep moving".
Drop in house prices, home sales, and mortgage loans
The NRC Handelsblad covers the first drop in Dutch house prices since 1990. An estate agents' spokesman thinks the small drop of 0.3 percent since July is "no more than logical after a year of credit crisis", and appeals to the banks not to "upset" the housing market.
The number of houses sold in July, August and September was 13 percent less than in the previous quarter, while 7 percent more homes were for sale. The spokesman said, "With a certain amount of cynicism, you could say.... that the general shortage of houses is keeping prices stable".
In its economy section, De Volkskrant says that mortgages are becoming harder to obtain. An expert says the banks, over the last few years, became more restrictive in handing out mortgages. "However", he points out, "a new trend is that they are now turning people down without good reason".
Dutch government supports Icesave account holders
The mass-circulation daily De Telegraaf leads with the guarantee given by Minister Bos that Dutch savers with the failed Icelandic internet bank Icesave will get their money back.
The paper says that a Dutch delegation is travelling to Iceland to mediate and exert pressure, but that it is unclear how willing the Icelandic government is to co-operate. However, it quotes Mr Bos as saying that the savers will be reimbursed "one way or another".
Parliament investigates connections between legal and illegal business
Trouw reports that a parliamentary workgroup is investigating the links between legal and illegal business. Workgroup chair Cisca Joldersma says the situation is worrying and impossible to know how widespread it is. "We kept coming to the real estate sector. That's where the problems are concentrated", she explains.
The workgroup reports that "the chains of transactions are inextricably interwoven". They involve not only criminals but also lawyers, notaries, estate agents and surveyors. The MPs are urging more controls on these professions, saying that rights such as professional confidentiality "can be used as a cover for illegal activities".
Undercover journalist breaches military security
The AD reports that an undercover television journalist working for the SBS 6 channel was able to breach security at the Dutch army and air force bases. Alberto Stegeman wore an army uniform and recorded his inspections of helicopters and fighter planes with a hidden camera.
"I thought military bases were fortresses. The truth is that they're anything but. I show how easy it would be to steal something or commit a terrorist attack", he says. A ministry of defence spokesman says that it is too expensive to guard every military facility, and that security surrounding crucial systems has the highest priority.
Different opinions on National Traffic-Jam-Free Day
De Telegraaf says that National Traffic-Jam-Free Day on Thursday was a failure. Various travel groups called on commuters to use public transport, travel outside the rush hour or work from home to ease congestion on the roads. The paper says traffic jams were as bad as usual and in the evening they were even worse.
The Dutch automobile association, however, claims it was "a very successful day".
Parliament asks the royal household private questions
The NRC Handelsblad features an article on parliamentary questions about the royal household. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende became frustrated when MPs asked about security at the holiday retreat in Mozambique planned by Crown Prince Willem Alexander. The PM said it was a private matter and he never answered questions on security.
He also dismissed one MP's suggestion that, at state banquets, the queen should serve traditional Dutch mash. The potato and vegetable dish is usually paired with sausage and gravy.
[Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica]