Economy was not 'economised to death'
5 October 2006, AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has denied that the economy was "economised to death" in recent years such as the left-wing opposition has claimed.
5 October 2006
AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has denied that the economy was "economised to death" in recent years such as the left-wing opposition has claimed.
The Liberal VVD minister said economic growth in 2004 and 2005 was slightly higher than in other euro-zone nations.
The Dutch economy is also leading the way in 2006 and 2007, he said.
Zalm admitted that the economic growth lagged behind the euro-zone average in 2002 and 2003.
But Zalm failed to convince the opposition parties on Thursday during a debate in the Parliament over the Cabinet's financial plans.
Labour PvdA MP Ferd Crone said the Netherlands would have been better off if the public's purchasing power had not been reduced by cabinet policy.
But Zalm said the cabinet was forced a few years ago to "pull the emergency brake" because the budget deficit topped the 3 percent limit imposed by the EU.
The deficit has since been eliminated and the government is expecting a small budget surplus next year.
The PvdA, green-left GroenLinks and Socialist SP parties claimed the surplus was primarily due to favourable economic conditions.
But Zalm dismissed the claims, saying the situation could still be better. He also said in English: "I never promised you a rose garden", referring to the well-known song.
Left-wing MP and Zalm also crossed hairs over employment, with the finance minister claiming "a record number of people will be working next year".
But GroenLinks MP Kees Vendrik said during the current term of office, the government will have only created 22,000 extra jobs.
"An unprecedented poor performamce," he said.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news