Expatica news

Dutch news in brief, 9 September 2004

Mortgage relief here to stay, says minister

State Secretary Joop Wijn has told Parliament he does not believe the cost of mortgage interest relief could become prohibitive for the government if interest rates rise. He also denied claims from MPs that mortgage relief mainly benefits the higher paid. Wijn — who is the tax minister at the Finance Ministry — dismissed calls for mortgage relief to be limited or to lead a debate in society about the issue. His stand point was supported by the three government coalition parties and the eight MPs who split recently from the populist LPF.

Civil servants to repay ‘unjust bonuses’

Top civil servants at the Education Ministry who received unjustifiably large bonuses or excessive salaries in error will have to repay them, Minister Maria van der Hoeven said Thursday. The abuses at the Education Ministry were uncovered during an official investigation by the Audit Office. This followed anonymous complaints by junior civil servants about the upper echelons, Radio Netherlands reported.

Soldiers face urine tests for drugs

The Defence Ministry is considering introducing urine tests as part of its drive to stamp out drug use in the military. The authorities are pursuing a zero-tolerance policy, under which troops caught using or selling hard drugs face immediate dismissal. People caught using soft drugs receive a warning for the first offence, but are dismissed if caught again. The move comes after reports that some Dutch naval personnel based in the Netherlands Antilles to combat drug trafficking are habitual drug users, with a minority involved in drug dealing.

Shoplifters cost Netherlands dearly

The financial cost of shoplifting in the Netherlands has risen by tens of millions of euros in the past year, while almost all other 24 EU countries have experienced a drop. “The Netherlands stands on the top of the shopping list for Eastern European gangs,” a spokesperson for the Dutch retail council (RND) told news service NOS on Thursday. The RND said tougher police action against the thieves had achieved some results this year, but the financial damage continued to increase because the gangs are better organised and shop employees are responsible for a large part of the theft. Therefore, shops must be allowed to publish still photographs from security footage of criminals to help deter or catch them, the RND said. New research shows shoplifting in the EU cost EUR 30 billion in lost revenue in the 12 months to July 2004.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news