Expatica news

Dutch news in brief, 21 December 2004

Van Gogh’s relatives claim PM abandoned them

The parents of murdered victim Theo van Gogh have accused Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of placing too much attention on the retaliatory attacks against Islamic buildings, while failing to make adequate contact with the filmmaker’s family. Anneke and Johan van Gogh were also critical of moves by Justice Piet Hein Donner to strengthen the anti-blasphemy laws, claiming it was akin to saying that the death of Van Gogh — who was a vocal critic of Islam — was his own fault. In reaction, the Government Information Service RVD said Balkenende wrote a letter to Van Gogh’s family the day after the murder. The family conceded it had received a “very correct” letter from Queen Beatrix and were telephoned by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.

Largest economic growth in 3 years

The Dutch economy grew by 1.5 percent in the third quarter of 2004, the highest quarterly growth figure in three years, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said on Tuesday. A large increase in exports led the growth, but household consumption increased only marginally in comparison with the same period last year. The CBS said there are indications of a modest economic recovery.

Lack of finances grounds Dutchbird planes

All Dutchbird planes will remain temporarily on the ground because of a funding freeze by it’s the owner of the airline, businessman Erik de Vlieger. Two flights, one each to Egypt and Gambia, were cancelled on Tuesday morning, and passengers were transferred to Transavia and Martinair flights. Dutchbird shareholder Harm P. was recently arrested on charges of blackmail, money laundering and forgery, and De Vlieger refused to accept responsibility for subsidiary company Dutchbird. P. has since been released from jail and has been re-installed as Dutchbird’s director, but De Vlieger has cut off all business dealings with him. It remains unclear if Dutchbird will be flying over the Christmas period. Travel agencies are seeking to make alternative arrangements for passengers.

Positive reactions to price rounding

More than 90 percent of Dutch supermarkets, chemists and liquor stores are rounding prices off to the nearest five euro cents, retail group Platform Detailhandel said on Monday. Various European countries are now also interested in the practice, which was launched in the Netherlands in September. The retail group said both Dutch retailers and consumers had reacted positively to the rounding off. The Dutch reserve bank DNB is handing on superfluous one and two euro cent coins to other European countries.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news