Hague urged to compensate consumers

11th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 August 2005, AMSTERDAM — Junior coalition partner D66 said on Thursday it would be "very understandable" if the government introduced measures to reduce the financial burden on citizens next year to compensate for a predicted drop in purchasing power.

11 August 2005

AMSTERDAM — Junior coalition partner D66 said on Thursday it would be "very understandable" if the government introduced measures to reduce the financial burden on citizens next year to compensate for a predicted drop in purchasing power.

D66 parliamentarian Bert Bakker suggested ministers could use the estimated EUR 1.5 billion windfall in extra natural gas earnings to finance the reductions.

The MP said many members of the public have suffered difficult years in financial terms, partly due to high oil prices. It was these very same high oil prices than helped the State achieve a higher income from natural gas. "The State should let these two factors cancel each other out," Bakker said.

Labour Party MP Ferd Crone agreed that there was "enough money" from the higher gas receipts and news of impending economic growth in 2006 to do something extra for the public. Crone is putting together a shadow budget as an alternative to the government's plans.

On Thursday morning it was reported in the media that confidential calculations by the government's macroeconomic think tank CPB indicated the Dutch economy would grow by 2.25 percent next year.

But the CPB reportedly believes the public will not benefit unless the government introduces measures to compensate for higher energy prices and the higher premiums everyone will face under the new health insurance scheme coming into force on 1 January.

In particular older people and the lower paid will need extra supports. But the CPB has warned that a far wider group than previous thought faces a drop in spending power.

Officials at the Ministry for Finance are studying the CPB's report and ministers are expected to begin discussing extra measures to jack up spending power on Friday.

The FNV, the country's largest trade union confederation, has warned of a confrontation with the government if effective steps are not taken to reduce the public's financial burden.

FNV chairman Ton Heerts said the labour movement would withhold its support for key reforms of the healthcare system, social security and pre-pension schemes if the government does not make money available to compensate the public.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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