Good news budget gets negative reviews

20th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 September 2005, AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm unveiled plans for higher spending after years of cutbacks and rising unemployment but the public and opposition groups gave his budget the thumbs down.

20 September 2005

AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm unveiled plans for higher spending after years of cutbacks and rising unemployment but the public and opposition groups gave his budget the thumbs down.

Budget Day in the Netherlands is known as Prinsjesdag, or Prince's Day. It begins with the monarch travelling to The Hague in a golden coach to give the speech from the throne outlining the government's plans for the coming year.

The last three years have also been marked by Zalm reciting a list of cutbacks and savings which heralded a drop in purchasing power and rising unemployment.

This year Zalm was cautiously optimistic. Notwithstanding the uncertain factor of the oil price, he predicted better days in the Netherlands.

Outstripping the meagre 0.5 percent this year, the economy should grow by 2.5 percent in 2006, Zalm said. Unemployment will fall by 30,000 to 475,000 and inflation will drop to 1 percent.

As a result of measures to reduce the financial burden, most groups in society will be better off next year, he said.

Thanks to the high price for oil, the government has benefited from higher natural gas receipts and this money will go towards education and the environment.

But trade unions, employers' groups and the opposition parties in parliament expressed doubts the government will make good on its promises of better times ahead. Trade union confederation FNV described the budget as a "saccharine bite of air".

Only the three government coalition parties were happy with the budget, although MPs of these parties also had a wish list of measures they want the government to adopt.

Members of the public who were interviewed by the media were also very dismissive of the budget and expressed little confidence in the government.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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