Minister backs down over 'Robin Hood' fund
11 December 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus has been force to withdraw his support for a "Robin Hood" bank account that was to be set up for people to donate money to help the socially disadvantaged.
11 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus has been force to withdraw his support for a "Robin Hood" bank account that was to be set up for people to donate money to help the socially disadvantaged.
The minister said on Wednesday he regretted that his remarks created the impression that the government was not doing enough to protect the purchasing power of vulnerable groups in society, newspaper NRC reported.
Amid tight government budget cuts, green-left party GroenLinks said it would open a "Robin Hood" bank account and Minister De Geus said he would form a team to handle calls from people wishing to make donations. "Where the government can no longer help, it is good that people stand up for each other," he said.
The account was an idea of GroenLinks MP Ineke van Gent, who said everyone who earned EUR 100,000 or more should be forced to pay EUR 500 extra in tax. "Otherwise, the difference between rich and poor in 2004 will be unacceptably large," she said.
The taxation proposal failed to gain parliamentary support and almost every political party has reproached De Geus for supporting the bank account proposal.
Despite withdrawing his support, the minister said he would still refer people on to GroenLinks if they ring to inquire about the account. But he also said there had very little interest expressed so far and GroenLinks has not even opened the account.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet decided on 5 December to allocate EUR 110 million towards boosting the purchasing power of the handicapped and chronically ill in 2004.
The extra funding came after De Geus admitted that vulnerable groups in society — such as the chronically sick and handicapped — will lose 8 percent of their purchasing power as a result of government budget cuts.
It is not yet certain if the extra funding will be carried trough into 2005, but De Geus has promised government Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 MPs that he will campaign hard for the extra funding.
The government intends to cut EUR 17 billion from its budget between now and 2007 and most people will suffer a 5 percent loss of purchasing power. The government has denied claims it previously committed itself to reducing the loss of purchasing power to just 1 percent.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news