Dutch news in brief, Monday 6 October 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.
6 October 2008
The Dutch government completely nationalises Fortis
Most of Monday's papers report on Fortis banks in the Netherlands, including ABN Amro operations, which the Dutch government fully nationalised on Friday.
NRC.next reports that government intervention on this scale, EUR 16.8 billion, is unique in Dutch history.
The move was prompted by continuing problems despite a EUR 11.2 billion euro investment last Monday.
The problems were mostly caused by a record EUR 12.6 billion exposure to debt, but also by uncertainty at the European stock exchanges about Fortis’s value after being nationalised by the Dutch government.
In a press conference, Finance Minister Wouter Bos said that the Netherlands “now owned a healthy company no longer at risk of being infected by the problems at Fortis' Belgian branch”.
NRC.next writes that the minister's statement irritated Belgium, which sold 75 percent of Fortis' Belgian branch to the French bank BNP Paribas in exchange for a 12 percent stake in Fortis.
To quote Monday's De Telegraaf: "Belgium is at one stroke a miniature banking state".
Amsterdam council wants to investigate HIV faith healings
AD reports that Labour MP Khadija Arib wants the health authourities to investigate HIV faith healings at the Pentecostal Church.
Ms Arib expressed her support of earlier appeals by the Amsterdam council and national gay interest group COC (Centre for Culture and Leisure).
The Pentecostal faith healings are seen as a threat to public health because HIV-infected patients who are declared healed may believe they no longer need medical treatment.
Amsterdam councillor Freek Ossel says it’s "a form of quackery".
The HIV faith healings are taking place at a number of churches, including the Embassy of God, a religious community led by former Amsterdam Christian Union councillor Yvette Lont.
In an interview she admitted participating in faith healings.
"During healing sessions we pray for the physically ill and the emotionally injured, for lesbians and gays who were the victims of abuse at a young age, in which case homosexuality can often be set straight. HIV can also be cured, yes, it happens".
She said Amsterdam councillor Freek Ossel's request for an investigation was "madness" and said he was doing the COC's dirty work.
The Amsterdam council and the COC are calling on people with negative experiences of faith healing to file a report with the police.
MPs consider using funds to return failed asylum seekers to their home countries
De Volkskrant reports on Christian Democratic MP Wim van de Camp, who wants to use funds reserved for development cooperation to give failed asylum seekers and illegal aliens a 'deportation bonus' of a few thousand euros.
The bonus, collectable only upon arrival in the country of origin, is intended to speed up their departure from the Netherlands.
According to de Volkskrant, around 45 percent of all asylum seekers eventually leave the Netherlands, voluntarily or otherwise.
Mr Van de Camp expects that an investment of EUR 10 million would speed up the process.
Coalition partners Labour and the Christian Union favour more intense supervision of failed asylum seekers who return to their home countries.
However, they refused to comment on the possible use of the development cooperation budget, which is traditionally fixed at 0.8 percent of the GNP.
Mr Van der Camp says: "We are still fiercely supportive of development cooperation and the 0.8 percent norm. I just want a slightly looser interpretation of the criteria for development cooperation".
Various aid organisations receive funding from the development cooperation ministry to help failed asylum seekers return to their countries of origin.
The Dutch government already pays a bonus to failed asylum seekers who voluntarily leave the Netherlands. However, most of that money is used for plane tickets and to pay off debts to human traffickers.
Effects on the Dutch housing market
Several of Monday's papers report the effects of the international financial crisis on the Dutch housing market.
Trouw reports that buyers and sellers are slightly nervous, but not panicking.
The Netherlands Bankers' Association (NVB) and the land register say the credit crunch is barely affecting the stable Dutch mortgage market.
A spokesperson for the land register says: "Demand for homes is not decreasing. On the contrary, prices are still rising".
However, the Dutch Association of Home Owners says that major price increases are over.
A spokesperson for the association says: "People used to buy a new home first and put their old home up for sale afterward. Today it's the other way around: sell first, buy later"
Mortgage lenders have become stricter, but a mortgage expert for the NVB argues that any comparison with the US situation would be incorrect.
"The risk of excessively high mortgage payment is covered by the strict rules used by Dutch banks. And there is a limit to the maximum mortgage people can take out which is, among other factors, based on income.”
Trouw reports that mortgage rates currently vary around six percent, nearly double of what they were just a few years ago, raising the limit for newcomers on the housing market.
However, interest rates barely increased recently and some banks even slightly lowered their long-term mortgage rates.
AD reports that the credit crisis affected Saturday's national 'open house' day, in which potential buyers could view 35,000 homes across the Netherlands, or around 30 percent of the total supply.
In many parts of the country sellers reportedly waited unsuccessfully for buyers to visit their properties.
Most Dutch move due to problems with a neighbour
In a related story, De Telegraaf reports that three-quarters of all people who move house do so because of their neighbours.
Loud music, barking dogs, screaming children and late night parties are the main reasons people move.
Disputes with neighbours can turn into a bigger conflict because the troubled housing market makes it difficult to move quickly.
Many local councils hired mediators to resolve disputes between tenants.
Professional mediator Hans Wormgoors says: "We notice that short fuses are becoming increasingly shorter, and people use this as an argument to justify their behaviour. Many people seem to take pride in that and want immediate redress".
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]