Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 2 December 2008

2nd 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.

2 December 2008

Economic Affairs Minister criticises banks

Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven criticised the “pathetic attitude” of banks which reduced the amount of credit they provide to businesses. Today’s de Volkskrant writes that the minister emphasised the importance of the banking system as the backbone of the business world. “That is why the government has provided the banks with billions of euros in guarantees. Which means that we did not help them just so that they could balance their own books. That is not enough. Soon the banks will have been saved while the business sector will have collapsed.”
AD also quotes statements which Van der Hoeven made following a meeting of European Union economic affairs ministers in Brussels. “Everyone is vexed with the banks’ behaviour at the moment. If you receive help so that you can carry out a task, then you should carry it out.” AD reports that ING received EUR 10 billion in governmental aid to be able to provide credit to companies and private individuals. The newspaper says that the banks’ reluctance to lend money is damaging the economy, reporting that businesses can no longer invest and private individuals are being denied mortgages.  
Half of planned rental units will not be constructed
De Telegraaf’s front-page headline states, “The construction of rental apartments is stagnating”. Not even half of the 55,000 new rental units which housing corporations were planning to build by 2010 will be realised. The paper reports that the setbacks are mostly due to complicated municipal building procedures and corporations being too optimistic with their plans. De Telegraaf reports that only 25,200 of the planned rental units were realised in 2007.  
Labour Party wants to establish an adolescent penal system
De Telegraaf writes that the Labour Party wants Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin to consider establishing a separate penal system for adolescents between 16 and 23 years old. According to Labour MP Ton Heerts, “The classical division in criminal law (one for adults and another for children) is no longer sufficient. We think that a separate category should be created for youths and young adults.” There is currently one system for adults and one for children under the age of 18.
De Telegraaf reports renewed criticism of the juvenile penal system following the recent sentencing of a 16-year-old to two years in jail for the killing of a mailman.
Dutch railways to prioritise passengers over punctuality
The Dutch railways NS changed its priorities and end its emphasis on punctuality. The director of the NS Transport Department Ingrid Thijssen told de Volkskrant, “From now on, it will be even more important that we pick up as many passengers as possible from the platform.”

The newspaper reports that until recently, trains were cancelled due to technical problems or accidents, even if they could run behind schedule. This was more favourable for the statistics on punctuality. Because of criticism of increased delays and poor service following the nationalisation of the NS, the railway increased efforts to improve its punctuality statistics to meet goals set by the government.
The paper writes that the NS is ending its strict policies, stating that they will choose the interests of the passenger. “We will make sure that he arrives at his destination, even if it leads to delays and a lower punctuality score,” NS stated.

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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