Dutch news in brief, Monday 23 February 2009

23rd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Construction project guidelines may be eased

A couple of today's papers pick up on the fact that MPs want to make it easier to launch construction projects. There have been recent calls for major construction and infrastructure projects to be brought forward to counter the economic downturn.

Trouw quotes a Labour MP: "I'm a strong supporter of more construction in cities, but it's far more complicated than building something in the middle of nowhere. There are so many guidelines, that one or other of the environmental regulations is bound not be followed to the letter." The idea is that local politicians should be able to push projects through despite problems such as environmental objections.

The mass-circulation daily, De Telegraaf, puts a different spin on the story, saying legislation may be introduced to limit the right of people and organisations to object to planning permission. It quotes another Labour MP: "It's a crime if the money and people are there to begin work, and it still can't get started."

Calls for firms to be able to decide whom they sack

AD prefers to lead with the news that Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner is looking into whether companies can be given more freedom in deciding which employees they can fire. Dutch employment law is complicated, with strict 'first in-first out' rules applied to age-defined bands of workers in cases of forced redundancy.

A Christian Democrat MP explains: "We have to make sure that irreplaceable people are not forced out. It mustn't be made easier for people to be fired. But, as the law now stands, people with great expertise are being lost because they haven't worked quite as long as colleagues in the same age group."

Violent robberies rock Dutch new town

Shop robberies in Almere, a new town near Amsterdam and the fastest growing municipality in the Netherlands, are increasingly commonplace nrc.next tells us. As well as extra security measures, shop owners are giving personnel special training to deal with the often violent problem. On Saturday, armed robbers tied up staff during a raid on a supermarket in the town. The owner of another shop, whose brother was shot in the stomach by robbers, is asked whether he will work behind the counter this week. "You've got to go on," he believes, "mentally and financially.

A criminologist thinks the trend is due to the rapid growth of the town and the preponderance of young men there. "People are more anonymous. There are fewer close links between people and therefore fewer social checks. That provides a breeding ground for criminals," he tells us.

Dutch PM in Berlin -health minister plays hard to get

The front page of de Volkskrant covers what it calls European leaders' rejection of protectionism in Berlin on Sunday. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Finance Minister Wouter Bos.

The paper also devotes part of its front page to the news that Deputy Health Minister Jet Bussemaker is resisting pressure to detail precisely where the special medical costs (AWBZ) budget goes. The budget is worth 22 billion euros a year and covers, for example, the cost of caring for the chronically sick at home or in institutions.

Recently, two care companies employed under the AWBZ budget lost 24 and 45 million euros in real estate transactions and mismanagement. MPs have been calling for more information on the expenditure.

Bussemaker is keeping her cool, however, and argues that MPs already have to deal with too much statistical information. In an interview, she assures de Volkskrant that she will raise the alarm if there is "explosive growth" in certain areas or if she becomes aware of "anything untoward."

Chief rabbi installed and Carnival gets under way

The Protestant daily, Trouw, has a picture of black suited men and one small boy, sporting either large black hats or Jewish skull caps at a meeting of the Inter-provincial Rabbinate. Binyomin Jacobs was installed as the organisation's chief rabbi at Arnhem's main synagogue yesterday. He will supervise the five Orthodox rabbis working outside Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden.

Many of today's other papers prefer to go with more colourful photos of Carnival revellers over the weekend. The traditional knees-up before the fasting period of Lent is celebrated for the most part in the traditionally Catholic areas in the south of the Netherlands. De Volkskrant has a picture of a suitably attired Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk enjoying a joke outside a bar in Den Bosch.

Radio Netherlands/Mike Wilcox/Expatica

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