MPs clash in fierce pre-election budget talks
27 September 2006, AMSTERDAM — Fierce words were exchanged between the opposition parties and the government on Wednesday as MPs debated the 2007 Budget in what descended into a pre-election stoush.
27 September 2006
AMSTERDAM — Fierce words were exchanged between the opposition parties and the government on Wednesday as MPs debated the 2007 Budget in what descended into a pre-election stoush.
Opposition left-wing parties Labour PvdA, green-left GroenLinks and Socialist SP clashed with coalition partners the Liberal VVD and Christian Democrat CDA in discussions over purchasing power, the AOW old age pension and healthcare.
Leading the charge was PvdA leader Wouter Bos, who said the Netherlands was suffering morally despite the pleasing economic recovery.
He said the lack of understanding between Native Dutch and immigrants has increased, the same as the differences between the rich and poor.
Bos also said the Cabinet had broken its promise that the rewards would come following several years of tight economising.
He said unemployment is higher than what it was when the first cabinet of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende took office in 2002.
Bos also said families had yielded almost EUR 9 billion in budget cuts and had only regained EUR 2 billion.
CDA leader Maxime Verhagen claimed Bos used "lies and half-truths", stressing that employment had actually risen in the past four years.
Both Verhagen and Liberal VVD leader Mark Rutte said the PvdA was coming down too hard on middle-income earners with its proposed tax on pensioners with a supplementary pension and planned restriction of the mortgage tax deduction.
Verhagen strongly defended cabinet policy, citing figures indicating the Netherlands has the lowest jobless rate in Europe and is topping economic growth figures.
Rutte said the cabinet has fulfilled its promises: the economy is healthy, the number of social security recipients is declining and immigration is under control.
SP leader Jan Marijnissen said low and middle-income earners should benefit more from the economic recovery, stressing that they should be compensated for recent economising.
He said the government was manic depressed, claiming it initially painted an overly negative picture of the economy and then later, gave exaggeratedly optimistic forecasts.
GroenLinks said the cabinet was obsessed with the economy, resulting in wasted years for environmental policy.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news