Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 27 May 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Coalition parties seek to scrap leniency policy towards offshore savers
De Telegraaf reports that the two main coalition partners, the Labour Party and the Christian Democratic CDA, want to scrap the current policy of leniency towards savers who voluntarily report their foreign-held savings account to the tax authorities.
At present, these savers only have to pay their back taxes, but if the coalition partners get their way, these repentant savers will have to pay a 15-percent fine as of 1 January 2010.
More than 5,000 savers have voluntarily reported their illegal savings to the tax authorities since 2001, and paid back EUR 181 million in taxes.
Earlier, Deputy Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager announced he would raise the fine for offshore savers caught by the tax authorities to 300 percent of the back taxes owed.
The minister also said he wanted to end the current clemency policy in a few years now as an increasingly number of countries relaxes their banking secrecy laws.
Minister wants to end subsidies for environmental organisations
Trouw reports that Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer wants to end the general subsidies for environmental organisations.
According to the minister, the general subsidies are "outdated" as most people are aware there is a climate problem.
In a letter to parliament, Cramer wrote that environmental subsidies will in future be granted to innovative and solution-oriented projects.
The environment minister said she wants to support initiatives developed by ordinary citizens working to save energy.
"This is a major trend. I am impressed by what I see happening in residential areas, I want to focus more attention on this phenomenon.
Environmental organisations can apply for subsidies if they organise or promote this type of activity, if not, they will see the government’s contribution to their organisations halved.
However, the minister expects the environmental organisations will still be able to play a significant role, even without structural government support.
"The environmental movement has come of age. It's not like in the 1970s, when they consisted of a handful of people, with just a few experts. They are well-organised groups now."
Violence against police officers deemed occupational hazard
AD reports the police and the public prosecutors' office have failed in their bid to secure severe sentences for people accused of assaulting police officers and other aid workers.
During a 'theme session' at the Amsterdam court -- only one type of offence was tried -- the presiding judge ruled that the confrontation with aggression was an integral part of the profession of police officer.
Even though the 20 suspects accused of assaulting police officers were issued more severe sentences, the sentences fell short of the 'double sentences' sought by the police and the justice ministry.
The judge said: "Dealing with aggressive people, other unacceptable behaviour and even frightening behaviour is an integral part of the work of a police officer."
However, the judge ruled that this did not apply to aid workers like paramedics.
The justice ministry expressed disappointment with the sentences, but will wait and see what happens during the next theme sessions before evaluating its policy.
The police union ACP called the sentences “ridiculous” and warned against more violence directed at police officers.
Children's hospital turns into teddy bear hospital
De Telegraaf features a photograph of medical student Vivianne putting a cast on the broken leg of a teddy bear, with its owner looking on with one arm around the bear's neck.
The Wilhelmina Children's Hospital in Utrecht Tuesday was converted into a teddy bear hospital for a day
Six hundred young children from Utrecht primary schools as well as patients from the hospital visited the teddy bear clinic.
One hundred-and-fifty medical students took the bears' pulses, temperatures and blood pressures.
A mock X-ray machine set up also showed fractures of teddy bears and other stuffed animals.
Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica