Dutch news in brief, Monday 19 October 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Wilders campaigns against government retirement plan
de Volkskrant reports Geert Wilders’ walkabout at a market in Rotterdam on Saturday where he handed out leaflets with the text: “Join the Freedom Party, and save the pensions!”
Shoppers were somewhat bemused by the scene as Wilders was not only accompanied by other Freedom Party MPs, but was also escorted by security personnel, police, journalists, photographers and cameramen. There were even riot police at the ready.
One passer-by tells an MP from the anti-Islam party, “I wouldn’t vote for you, but it’s a good thing that you’ve got a second issue to campaign about.”
Freedom Party MEP Barry Madlener explained the party’s motive for the campaign: “It would take a little time before the legislation is put before parliament, by then the general election will be close. If the party grows, we will throw out this legislation.”
Trouw points out the government retirement plan means that everyone who turns 50 this year will have to work two years longer, rather than just one year extra as suggested by Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner on Thursday.
DSB saga coming to an end
The DSB saga is coming to a close as time is running out for the DSB boss Dirk Scheringa.
AD reports Scheringa begged Finance Minister Wouter Bos for EUR 100 million to save the bank in a letter at the weekend.
After US company Lone Star Fund pulled out of negotiations for a takeover on Sunday, “plan B” was announced, in which customers, who could turn part of their savings into shares. Under the scheme the bank could make EUR 25 million in profit within a year.
However, the plan did not seem to be working as De Telegraaf quotes the conclusion drawn by Scheringa at midnight “Unfortunately we have not succeeded.”
Trouw is equally pessimistic about the future of the bank in its “End of DSB bank inevitable” report.
The paper also reports that both Scheringa and the bank’s chief operating officer withdrew their money from their accounts at the beginning of October after the Dutch Central bank told them they would have to stand down.
The Netherlands is “the biggest tax haven in the world”
de Volkskrant reports how the Netherlands allows multinational companies to get away with profit tax in a documentary programme Zembla, which was broadcast on Sunday evening.
According to tax law expert Geerten Michielse, the Dutch treasury misses out on EUR 16 billion in revenue every year and is a tax haven.
Based on figures from Statistics Netherlands, well-known Dutch companies such as Shell, Akzo Nobel and Philips only pay six to seven percent tax on their profits instead of 25.5 percent.
In May, the Netherlands was included on a list of tax havens compiled by the White House. The accusation was hastily withdrawn, however, after fierce protest by the Dutch Foreign Ministry.
In another government report this year, Norway called the Netherlands “the biggest tax haven in the world”. Several foreign companies also use Dutch addresses to get around paying tax. They include multinationals like Boeing, Walt Disney and US Steel.
According to Zembla, EUR 8,000 billion are processed through the Netherlands to avoid paying tax. That is a tenth of world trade.
The reason for the loophole is that tax laws were made in the 1920s and do not take globalisation into account.
The Socialist Party has called for a debate on the issue. Labour Party MP Paul Tang said: “It is a public secret that multinationals have been let off paying tax for many years.”
Silver medal for Zonderland
In spite of the stiff competition, Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland won a silver medal on the high bar at this weekend’s World Championships in London.
De Telegraaf prints a photo of the overjoyed athlete hugging his coach.
NRC.next reminds us of the disappointment when Zonderland lost his grip on the bars at the Beijing Olympics. He has also had to deal with a shoulder injury and disappointment after the medic failed to make it into a US university team.
This time his spectacular performance was almost flawless. When he went into the final he was brimming with confidence and was convinced he would win a medal. “I knew exactly what I had to do.”
Now he is looking forward to next year’s championships in Rotterdam “Then it will be gold.”
Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica