Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 10 September 2008

10th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

10 September 2008

Budget leak
With budget day in the Netherlands just under a week away, the usually well-guarded government plans for the coming year have been leaked to a television programme. AD and NRC.Next report on the programme's findings.

In spite of promises by Finance Minister Wouter Bos that no-one will be worse off, it appears low income families and the elderly will lose out. A spokesperson for the minister defends him, saying: "We've always said we cannot guarantee individual cases". Meanwhile double income families with children will be 0.5 percent better off.
The Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), which audits the budget, predicts that the Dutch economy will not be affected by the US credit crisis.
 Although according to AD, unemployment will increase and the job market is likely to stagnate. The CPB warns that there is no room in the budget for a financial downturn and if that happens, there could be more cuts.
Society timebomb
De Volkskrant reports that the rapid increase in the number of young people in difficulties is a time bomb in society.  

In an interview with the paper, Hans Kamps,  president of an employers' association and appointed by the crown to the Social and Economic Council, thinks the government has seriously underestimated the danger of a rapidly growing underclass in the Netherlands.

The demand for youth welfare services increases by 10 to 25 percent every year. There are more than 10,000 children on the waiting list for psychiatric assistance. The number of young disabled people on benefits has increased to a half a million in 15 years.

Fifty thousand young people leave school every summer without qualifications. Every year, 110,000 children suffer child abuse and 7,000 young people end up living on the streets.
He warns that money has to be made available structurally to tackle these problems: "But the question is whether society is prepared to pay to help society's underclass?" If it isn't the knowledge economy the government so likes to promote will come under threat, as there will be too few young people in a position to take the opportunities on offer.

Nevertheless, Kamps thinks Youth and Family Minister André Rouvoet is doing a good job, although he is finding it difficult to highlight these problems.
Popular paralympics
Interest among Dutch television viewers for the Paralympics in Beijing is growing. According to De Volkskrant, no-one paid much attention to the Paralympics for decades.

Eight years ago in Sydney there was an outcry when Dutch paralympic athletes won 30 medals and there was no television coverage. In 2004, the Dutch public broadcaster NOS decided to do a co-production with a private broadcasting company. The programme entitled "With one leg in the final" did not go down well with a number of viewers, as it did little to change the stereotype of disabled people.

This time the NOS decided to accept its responsibility and report daily on the sporting event.

The results are astounding. Viewing figures at 427,000 are twice as high as predicted. The atmosphere in the Holland House in Beijing is ecstatic. The feeling among athletes is "We've made it".

As a result, the NOS is hurriedly arranging a welcoming  ceremony on their return. With two gold medal winners on Tuesday(swimmer Mirjam de Koning and javelin thrower Pieter Gruijters) viewing figures are only likely to go up.
Fresh air for school children
A photograph of young children wearing white surgical masks during a demonstration in The Hague was published in a number of newspapers.

The primary school children, parents and teachers handed over a petition to the Lower House demanding for fresh air in the classroom. AD reports that the issue of stale air in schools is a nationwide problem, but there is no money to pay for proper ventilation systems.

The children say fresh air is not just healthier, but will also bring about better results.

Windmill restoration
And Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk is photographed climbing up a windmill blade to kick off a restoration project on 11 of the 19 windmills on the famous Kinderdijk.

The Dutch heritage department has set aside EUR 2.5 million to restore the foundations of the mills which have been damaged  by water. Ironically the mills were built to pump away the water in the first place.

The Kinderdijk windmills were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.
[Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica]

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