Dutch news in brief, Friday 31 October 2008

31st October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

31 October 2008

Central Bank: scrap bank managers’ bonuses
In Friday's Trouw, Central Bank President Nout Wellink argues for scrapping the bonus system for bank managers.

Wellink says that the bonus system in the financial sector leads to risks which go against the interests of society as a whole. According to Trouw, bonuses based on the number of transactions concluded by bankers lead to irresponsible and socially undesirable behaviour.

Wellink, who made his statements at a symposium on integrity, said that the Central Bank would evaluate whether bonus structures lead to the taking of irresponsible risks.

As far as Wellink is concerned, bonuses should be scrapped altogether.

"I have no sympathy for the system as such, because before you know it, incentives start having the wrong effect". The Central Bank president would much prefer a system based on "a decent, competitive salary".

During the discussion following Wellink's introductory speech, he lashed out not just at top CEOs but also at the bonus system introduced across the organisational structures of banks. "There has been widespread stupidity as well as inadequate insight and a lack of self-criticism among bank CEOs".

Wellink added that there have also been problems at lower organisational levels. "All too often, there was a lack of integrity on the workfloor"

However, the central bank president added that "more than the behaviour of individual employees, the so-called 'tone at the top' was key to sound operational management. He emphasised that integrity as a foundation to be trusted was of vital importance to the whole financial sector.

In addressing bank CEOs, Wellink said: "It is your responsibility to make the right choices. If you fail to make choices, you will find that the Central Bank takes its role as watchdog of integrity seriously".

Bankcards fraud
AD reports of bank card fraud which starts at the production line of bankcard readers. A Dutch criminal investigation bureau says that criminals built skimming equipment into these machines at the production line in the Asian factory where they are manufactured. Some of these manipulated machines reportedly find their way to the Dutch market.

Currence, an inter-bank organisation charged with preserving the quality and the security of the payment system in the Netherlands, says additional security measures are in place for Dutch electronic payment equipment.

Upon arrival in the Netherlands, bankcard readers are weighed because the built-in decoder adds another 100 grams to the weight of the machine.

However, criminals will go to great lengths to attach skimming devices to bankcard readers. In August, Police in Breda discovered a Romanian in the ceiling of a supermarket. He was waiting for the supermarket to close so he could work on the shop's card readers.

Currence says the latest targets of these criminals are gas stations and ticket vending machines at railway stations. This year, Railway police have discovered 321 manipulated vending machines. However, on a national level, bankcard fraud has little or no priority

The national public prosecutor for fraud says the damage caused by bankcard fraud – EUR 14 million - is negligible compared to the total amount of bankcard transactions. In a few years, the introduction of a so-called chip card is to make skimming impossible.

These chip cards are already in use in most European countries, with the exceptions of Finland, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Electronic patient file letters may cause chaos
De Telegraaf reports that "Klink letter sparks chaos". The paper refers to a letter which every household in the Netherlands will find on its doormat by Saturday morning.

In the letter, Health Minister Ab Klink announces the introduction of electronic patient files, which are to facilitate the exchange of patients' medical files by, GPs, pharmacies and hospitals.

The system is expected to help prevent 19,000 avoidable admissions to hospital and 1,200 avoidable deaths. However, parliament and GPs are warning that Klink's letter may cause widespread confusion, as the new system will not be introduced until 2009.

Parliament wholeheartedly supports the new system, but argues that the minister is jumping the gun, as a law making it compulsory for pharmacies, GPs and hospitals to take part in the new system has not even been adopted yet.

Labour MP Roos Vermeij says: "Everybody will now expect the system to be introduced real soon, while its introduction will only be completed two years from now".

Socialist Party MP Arda Gerkens adds: "This is bizarre. Klink should have waited until parliament passed the bill".

The inclusion of a form which allows patients to refuse to take part in the new system also met with fierce criticism.

Auditor’s office says government fishery polices have failed
Trouw reports that the Dutch auditor's office has wiped the floor with the government's fishery policies. The auditor's office reports that the government's 'sustainable' fishery policies have failed because economic interests took precedence over ecological ones.

The report Durable Fisheries deals primarily with the plaice, sole and cod fisheries which involve nets being dragged across the sea floor by so-called trawlers.

The researchers acknowledge that national policies are tied in closely with European regulations. However, they write that: "as a member state, the Netherlands, one of the five major European fishery nations, is partly responsible for, and tied to EU policy. A policy which, despite increasing catch limitations, failed to prevent the continuing declines of several species.

The auditor's office says that the quota system failed, mainly because member states focused on securing their national economic interests and resisted stricter catch limitations.

The quotas also fail to take into account the huge quantities of fish that are dumped overboard, usually dead, because they belong to non-commercial species of fish. The bycatch, often as big as 60 percent of the total catch, has a serious impact on the food chain and the chances of survival for other species.

The report blames the government for inadequate inspections of fishing boats and a lack of innovative policies, while the negative ecological impact of dragnets have been known for decades.

The auditor's office also questions attempts to reorganise the fishing fleet which has led to a reduction of the number of fishing boats but has not improved the results of the remaining vessels. It would be better, according to the report, to first determine the optimum size of the fleet before starting to buy out fishermen.  

Halloween gains popularity
De Telegraaf has a picture of a little girl reaching for a piece of candy on a silver tray held by a man wearing a waiter's costume and a scary mask. The paper writes that "Halloween breaks loose".

The US feast is reportedly gaining ground in the Netherlands. On Thursday, business at a shop in party goods and gadgets in central Amsterdam was brisk.

For the first time ever, a Halloween procession involving hundreds of participants will be held in the capital.

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

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