Opposition claims budget will widen income gap

21st September 2005, Comments 0 comments

21 September 2005, AMSTERDAM — Opposition parties rounded on the centre-right coalition government on Wednesday and accused it of framing a budget that would widen the income gap between the high paid and low earners.

21 September 2005

AMSTERDAM — Opposition parties rounded on the centre-right coalition government on Wednesday and accused it of framing a budget that would widen the income gap between the high paid and low earners.

The heaviest criticism during the debate on the budget unveiled on Tuesday related to the new healthcare system with more expensive premiums coming in January 2006.

People on minimum wage, with chronic illness or people with disabilities would be the hardest hit financially, the opposition parties alleged.

Middle-income earners would not see the improvement in purchasing power they had been promised either, Labour Party (PvdA) leader Wouter Bos said. "The better you read [the budget], the less there is to see," he said.

Bos likened promises of improvements in the purchasing power for middle-income families and people on minimum wage to a fata morgana. This was a reference to the fact Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrat Party celebrated its 25th anniversary in the 'Efteling' amusement park, which has a very popular fata morgana ride. 

The leader of the largest opposition party said the new universal healthcare package was a "sad example" of the government falsely claiming its policies would benefit the public.

Bos indicated his party agreed with the government on one issue: the public should be compensated for the consequences of the high cost of oil.

Femke Halsema, leader of the green-left GroenLinks, warned more was necessary to lessen the wage gap in the Netherlands. Socialist Party leader Jan Marijnissen drove home the point: "The Cabinet is giving families with twice the average wage 20 times more than people on minimum wage. Why?"

Andre Rouvoet, leader of the small Christian party ChristenUnie, accused the government of cultivating cynicism.

He said ministers were doing this by first presenting "doomsday scenarios" about the greying of the population and unemployment, and then reducing taxes with one eye on the municipal elections. "The public isn't stupid," he warned.

The opposition has also submitted its own shadow budgets. An assessment by independent macro-economic body Centraal Planbureau (CPB) of Labour's budget found it would lead to 0.3 percent more economic growth compared to the 2.5 percent anticipated by the government. Labour's plan would also create 30,000 more jobs.

Christian Democrat Maxime Verhagen countered by accusing Bos of being dishonest as Labour's plans, he said, would be bad for the economy in the long run.

The CPB also examined the GroenLinks counter budget which is dedicated to helping the lower paid. It would create 50,000 extra jobs, the CPB said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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