RNW Press Review – Thursday, 27 March 2008
A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.
NRC Handelsblad breaks the news that 76 out of 91 Dutch hospitals which underwent inspection have in recent years been swindling the tax office out of VAT. The scam netted the institutions EUR 104 million.
The hospitals, which are supposed to pay VAT on equipment, often arranged for lease companies to buy the goods and receive VAT refunds. The equipment was then leased by the hospitals.
What's worse, the paper says, Jenny Thunnissen, the head of the tax service, actually had a paid job as financial inspector on the board of one of the hospitals. A tax lawyer calls it "striking" that the board never asked its financial expert about the leasing operation. "That is difficult to understand," he says. In what can hardly be described as a surprising move, Ms Thunnissen has now resigned her post on the hospital board.
On its front page, the AD reports that right-wing MP Geert Wilders' PVV party is short of cash. It seems the cost of his anti-Qur'an film, which is causing such a fuss both in The Netherlands and abroad, has broken the bank.
On his website, the MP apparently explains: "I've run up enormous costs. The PVV does not receive a subsidy and has to rely entirely on the support of charitable citizens like you. I need your help urgently," he writes.
De Volkskrant reports that the planned introduction of a tax on road use, scheduled to be introduced in 2011, is beginning to look shaky. The environmental toll was supposed to replace the tax added to the purchase price of new cars, but it seems finance ministers are unwilling to give up the lucrative earner.
An 'environmental accord' on the new road-use toll was supposed to be signed yesterday by ministers and traffic organisations. However, the inclusion of a clause pledging to abolish the car-purchase tax caused a last-minute row between ministers.
The signing ceremony was cancelled after the road users' representatives had been waiting one and a half hours. One of those due to sign the document says: "I thought it was all settled in December. This will not make the road-use tax more popular with motorists."
According to the AD, not all those kept waiting were hopping mad. "At least the rolls were good," one transport sector representative is quoted as saying.
Still on the environment, Trouw covers the introduction of a tax on airline tickets for which a judge gave the go-ahead last week. After the hearing, Amsterdam's Schiphol airport claimed in the press that the new tax would mean the loss of 12,000 jobs.
Deputy Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager is accusing Schiphol of playing with the figures. An official report said that employment growth would slow by 5,000 to 10,000 jobs up to 2011. "That just means less growth: new jobs will still be being created, " the minister argues.
Finally, the mass-circulation daily, De Telegraaf, devotes part of its front page to a short piece which challenges a translator's ingenuity. The report has the headline "Straatnaam De Harde te sexy". A perhaps rather racy rendering of this might be: Stiffy Street too sexy a name.
The local council has received complaints from eight people buying houses in the road who fear its name could prove embarrassing. A spokeswoman says: "To avoid the residents’ embarrassment, the council has decided to rename the street." She goes on to explain that "the name just referred to the firm ground found locally, nothing more".
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]