RNW Dutch Press Review, Thursday 12 June 2008

12th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

12 June 2008

Gloomy revised forecasts for 2009 
Both de Volkskrant and the NRC Handelsblad today cover official figures which make gloomy reading. At the same time, the papers give us an insight into the large number of impressively titled Dutch advisory institutions.

De Volkskrant reports that the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis has revised forecasts for 2009 downwards, putting growth at 1.25 percent compared to 2.25 percent in 2008.

This means that, unless the government intervenes, the poorest in society will be between 0.5 and 1 percent worse off in 2009. The downturn is largely due to the credit crisis and the high price of oil.

The present government promised "first the sour, then the sweet", with purchasing power suffering this year under a number of harsh financial measures.

From 2009, purchasing power would rise by 1 percent a year to 2011, but the cabinet will now be pushed to deliver on this promise. A Labour MP wants to protect the poorest, and says: "We'll do what we can to cancel out the negative effects....". However, he is still realistic and adds that "the cabinet is not in control of the world economy".

The NRC Handelsblad has a double whammy of doom. In the first, it says the Scientific Council for Government Policy is warning that unbridled market forces could endanger the drinking water, energy and road infrastructures in the long term.

Although the council is calling for tighter supervision, it does not advocate re-nationalisation with its dangers of "political opportunism, compartmentalisation and too limited innovation".

In the second portion of bad news, the papers reports disabled people in institutions, the chronically sick under 65 and wheelchair users will be hundreds of euros worse off next year due to government cuts.

The National Institute for Family Finance Information confirms that the figures are correct. A Labour MP says that "it's worrying if people on low incomes are worse off due to these reforms". He goes on to promise that "if that's so, adjustments will have to be made".

Dutch truckers dismiss protests as soft
The AD tells us that some truckers find the planned go-slow protests, which will merely inconvenience other road users, "too soft" and are planning unofficial motorway blockades.

Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings warns that he thinks it "important that no motorways are blocked".

De Volkskrant puts the Dutch demands for scrapping the tax hike in a wider context. In Europe, it tells us, protests against the already high price of diesel are growing, with transport sectors in other EU countries demanding government compensation.

The paper also reports a hardening of opinions in the Netherlands, with the chairman of the Dutch Association of Owner Drivers quoted as saying: "Emotions are very high. It's not just the diesel tax we're angry about. The government is piling on one charge after another."

US agency conducts secret operations in 2005
"Espionage row with the US" shouts De Telegraaf's headline. The paper tells us its sources are well-informed insiders in The Hague.

They say the head of the CIA in the Netherlands had to be replaced in 2005 after it was discovered the US agency was conducting secret operations without the knowledge of the Dutch authorities.

Apparently, during investigations into the international trade in nuclear technology, the Dutch intelligence service secretly installed cameras in the home of a businessman.

"Shortly afterwards,.....a CIA team gained entry to the same premises. The Dutch spies were able to film their US colleagues."

The Hague had not been informed of the CIA operation. The paper says the incident was hushed up at the time so as not to harm Dutch-US relations.

[Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica]

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