Dutch news in brief, Monday 21 September 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Business as usual for bank bonuses
All papers cover Friday's report from the Dutch central bank (DNB) on bonuses in the banking sector.
De Volkskrant sums up the story on its front page and says bonuses paid to the highest earners in Dutch banks remained more or less the same in 2008 as in the previous year.
The DNB calls it "singular" that bonuses were paid at all in companies which were making heavy losses. Top bankers earning upwards of EUR 1.5 million in 2008 were awarded average bonuses of 311 percent of their annual salaries.
The DNB concludes that the risks inherent in the banks' salary systems are "not sufficiently under control". In what many may consider sublime understatement, the DNB describes as merely "striking" the fact that bankers themselves find the present system satisfactory.
The report sees the enormous bonuses handed out to merchant bankers as one of the causes of the economic crisis. The paper points out that, in the recent voluntary salary code agreed between the banks, there is no ceiling to the amounts which can be paid to merchant bankers.
Dutch bonus curb on the way
The AD sees the story slightly differently under its headline: "Joint offensive against bonuses" and says the European Union and the United States are planning to curb bank bonus excesses.
It hopes Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will use the DNB report during the upcoming G20 meeting to push home the fact that there has to be an international agreement to curb bank bonus excess.
The paper adds that it isn't just top executives at the banks who get the extra handouts.
The DNB report indicated that bank employees who earn between EUR 100,000 and EUR 200,000 a year also walked away with an average of more than 10 percent of their annual pay in bonuses in 2008.
The paper quotes Finance Minister Wouter Bos: " Even if no international agreement is made, we will still get one in the Netherlands."
Trafigura offers compensation but refuses to accept blame
Another big story today is the settlement being offered by Trafigura to the 31,000 people in Ivory Coast affected by the toxic waste dumped there from the Probo Koala ship in 2006.
Those who became ill are being offered just over EUR 1,000 in compensation by the company which has its headquarters in Amsterdam.
Trouw says Trafigura still refuses to accept any blame in the affair, citing evidence from 20 experts which says there was no link between local people's health problems and the dumped waste. The company claimed the worst results from contact with the waste were shortness of breath and flu-like symptoms. It rejects allegations that a number of deaths resulted from the pollution.
A lawyer for the victims tells de Volkskrant: "We could definitely win a court case, but that could take years. For some of the victims a bad settlement is better than a good trial."
Greenpeace, however, does not agree and is pushing for executives at Trafigura to be prosecuted. The organisation has entered a complaint against non-prosecution with the court in The Hague. A spokeswoman told Trouw: "You can't buy off justice with money".
Muslims who are spend Eid alone
We're used to stories about people spending Christmas and New Year alone but spare a thought, says nrc.next, for Muslims who are spending their version of new year - Eid - alone in the Netherlands.
Many Muslim men come to the Netherlands from abroad to find work and leave their families behind. For them Eid, traditionally a time for presents, tasty treats and, most importantly, family get-togethers, is a difficult period.
"These are the worst few days of the year for me," said Mustafa. " It's lonely. My wife, family and three children are in Turkey. I'd love to go and see them this Eid. But, as long as I don't have a residence permit, I can't leave the country.
Market Garden marks 65th anniversary
Monday papers sport pictures of this year's commemoration of Operation Market Garden, the audacious allied offensive deep behind Nazi German lines in September 1944 which aimed at liberating Nijmegan and Arnhem.
Nrc.next pictures some of the 1,000 Dutch, British and German soldiers who parachuted from planes on Sunday to mark the 65th anniversary of the airborne attack.
De Telegraaf runs the headline: "British back in Nijmegan" and has a photo of Queen Beatrix with Great Britain's Prince Philip, inspecting British grenadier guards in dress uniform specially brought over to the Netherlands for the occasion.
The paper says security was tight following the attack on the royal family during Queens Day and Nijmegan city-centre was more or less sealed off. There was enormous interest in the ceremony and people wanting a glimpse of the royals had to be early.
Nijmegan mayor Thom de Graaf gave a speech remembering the offensive to free the Dutch cities. He told the crowd they were dark days for Nijmegan which was virtually swamped by the hostilities. Thousands of buildings lay in ruins and the death toll reached 2,200.
"The city lost its soul," he said.
Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilson / Expatica