Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 16 December 2008

16th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

Fortis could lose EUR 1 billion in latest financial scandal
Fortis Bank Netherlands, now owned by the Dutch state, may have been hit hard by the Madoff scheme.

Most of today's Dutch dailies lead with the news that Madoff's Ponzi scheme - a pyramid scheme named after US-Italian fraudster Charles Ponzi - could cost Fortis Bank Netherlands up to EUR 1 billion.

Numerous private individuals and companies used their holdings in Madoff's hedge fund company as collateral for loans from Fortis bank. AD quotes a statement from Fortis: "If clients are unable to fulfil their obligations and the collateral turns out to be worthless, losses could amount to between EUR 850 million and 1 billion"

Bernard Madoff, former head of the NASDAQ exchange, operated a hedge fund that turned out to be a fraud scheme worth EUR 37 billion.

Banks across the world have been issuing statements detailing their losses.

The real question for Dutch taxpayer is who will pay? De Volkskrant gets to the heart of the matter with its headline: "US mega-fraud could cost Bos a billion".

The paper writes that Finance Minister Wouter Bos may have to find EUR 1 billion to cover the debts. The finance ministry said the news about Fortis bank was "very unpleasant".

Left-wing parties complain cabinet isn't green enough
"Opposition bemoans lack of sustainable elements in cabinet's infrastructure plans" headlines Trouw above its report on yesterday's parliamentary debate on the government's long-range plans for transport, infrastructure and urban and country planning.

The paper writes that left-wing MPs were bewildered by the government's failure to incorporate green technology and sustainability into structural plans.
"If we're discussing sustainability and green technology, the transport minister submits an emergency bill to build more motorways," said a member of parliament for the opposition GreenLeft party.

Secularisation on the increase
The bishoprics of Haarlem and Rotterdam conducted a research on churches that have closed down over the last 35 years to mark 2008 as the year of religious heritage.

The report which was released on Monday showed that churches are being emptied rapidly as the Netherlands becomes increasingly secular.

Since 1970, 927 churches have closed their doors and a further 1,200 will close down over the coming years. One-third of the churches were knocked down and the rest were put to other uses.

De Volkskrant writes that many of structures built on sites vacated by churches are not noted for their architectural style.

“Church buildings have been replaced by extremely boring housing complexes or old people's homes," said one of the report's authors.

Owning a home doesn't make you happy
The housing market in the Netherlands is strictly controlled and most people rent their homes from housing corporations. In recent years, the housing corporations have been selling rental properties to residents.

According to NRC.next, the theory behind this trend posits that tenants who buy their houses will look for a job or work more hours, enrol in further education, develop a wider social network and become more self-sufficient.
However, the first nationwide study into these former tenants/new homeowners released on Monday refutes this theory.

The paper writes that very few people worked more after buying their houses and just eight percent said their social network had widened. One of the researchers told the paper: "It's an illusion to believe that owning your own home improves your quality of life".

Champagne flows despite financial gloom
Despite the crisis, the Christmas party goes ahead, reports AD.

The paper shows a photo of people hefting champagne glasses despite the economic doom and gloom stories published on the papers.

The paper reports that about 800,000 Dutch people will be going on holiday over the Christmas season. But it's not all good cheer as AD also reports that the Dutch automobile association predicts the queue for the ski lift will start on the Amsterdam ring road.

[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]

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