Dutch news in brief, Thursday 23 July 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.ING bank spent EUR 1 billion bailout money for pensions
Nrc.next says ING bank spent over EUR 1 billion of public subsidy on rescuing its Dutch pension fund when the government repeatedly refused to bail out pension funds despite calls to do so from the opposition.
"I presume that, during the bailout talks, ING told [Finance Minister] Wouter Bos: 'We've not just invested in rotten American mortgages, but we've also got a shaky pension fund,'" said a financial expert interviewed by the paper.
Meanwhile, ING objects to the word 'rescue' with regard to the pension fund injection, saying the payment did not affect the bank's capital in accountancy terms.
A spokesman for the VEB shareholders' association thinks the payment went against the spirit of the government bailout.
"The capital injection was to save the bank. Over EUR 1 billion for the pension fund is quite an amount. I don't remember, for example, ING broaching the matter at its shareholder meeting," he added.
No jobs for foreign imams
Trouw reports foreign imams will not be able to get jobs in mosques in the Netherlands soon.
The government wants to end the practice of importing imams from abroad who do not speak Dutch, are not acquainted with modern Dutch culture and may even push a radical Islamic agenda.
Three prestigious educational institutions, INHOLLAND, VU University Amsterdam and University of Leiden, now offer courses to qualify as an imam in the Netherlands.
The problem is that many mosques simply do not have the funds to employ expensive Dutch graduates. The idea is also unpopular with the older generation of worshippers who still wield most power in the mosques.
"Dutch is the language of the future," said one insider, "but the conservatism of the first generation is a problem."
"Knowledge of Arabic and the Qur'an: you can't learn all that in four or five years," countered an imam working in Amsterdam.
Others believe a modern Dutch form of Islam has to be established before imams can be trained here.
"Dutch Islam needs its own theology [...] so that the new imam doesn't need to work from 13th-century sources. Dutch imams have to be able to draw on a kind of Dutch Islam," agreed an expert.
Top Dutch NATO official was 'security risk'
De Telegraaf reports “Top Dutch official thrown out of NATO".
In spring, a top official was ejected from the NATO office in the United States by the Dutch secret service, the AIVD, because "he could be blackmailed".
Despite being backed by his immediate superior, the official's security clearance was revoked and he was forced to quit and leave the US.
The official denies the AIVD's claim that there was a risk he would "sell" sensitive information to "subversive elements" and is taking the matter to court.
His lawyer is accusing the AIVD of "gross negligence" and tells the paper: "There was no listening to both sides. He wasn't allowed to defend himself."
Shopkeepers’ interest not protected by the law
The AD reports that shops are being closed at short notice by landlords who want to carry out renovation work.
Legislation designed to speed up construction projects means that many small-scale shopkeepers are now being forced to pack up and leave without being given adequate time, alternative premises or compensation.
Retail trade organisations are calling for changes to the law. Shopkeepers’ interests should be protected and rental contracts cannot be terminated just so that renovation work can be carried out.
Labour members boycott EUR 10,000-farewell bash
De Volkskrant covers a row in the provincial government of North Holland.
Labour members have decided to boycott the EUR-10,000 farewell party of outgoing assembly finance chief Ton Hooijmakers. He presided over the loss of EUR 78 million which was invested in the failed Icelandic bank Icesave and was forced to quit because of the debacle.
The farewell bash will be held at Amsterdam's new Hermitage Museum.
"I don't think this sort of lavish do is suitable," said one Labour member in defence of the boycott.
Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica