Dutch news in brief, Thursday 23 October 2008

23rd 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.

23 October 2008

Fortis staff to pay back bonuses
De Volkskrant continues to report on the Fortis scandal. It says some of the bonuses awarded by the recently nationalised Dutch arm of Fortis Bank will have to be paid back.

The bonuses to senior management apparently averaged out at about EUR 71,000, and were designed to keep pivotal staff in place after the state takeover.

According to the paper, the government is now putting pressure on members of the Fortis board to pay back their own bonuses for 2008.

Government imposes cap on earnings in state-run firms
The AD also covers top salaries, breaking the news that the government is imposing a maximum of EUR 350,000 a year for earnings in state-run companies. The figure represents a major reduction compared to the level of remuneration being paid to top executives at present.

Meanwhile, the mass-circulation De Telegraaf informs us that a former trade union federation boss has been appointed to the board of the ING banking group, which recently received a government injection of cash. He and another state appointee will have a joint veto.

Finance Minister Wouter Bos says: "they can stop everything but, on the other hand, can't force things on the rest [of the board]."

Green power turns grey
"The green power was grey" says nrc.next, reporting on the EUR 280 million in tax breaks fraudulently claimed between 1999 and 2003 by Dutch power companies.

The tax service puts it more delicately, saying the companies, which included Essent, Eneco and Nuon, "cannot always make a reasonable case that the electricity supplied was produced as sustainable energy."

The companies had to have certificates from producers to show the power being sold was green. The tax office has discovered that over 20 percent more 'green energy' was sold than there were certificates for. The companies are to repay the money and will face fines.

Child abuse at A&E goes unnoticed
Trouw covers a Health Care Inspectorate report accusing hospital accident and emergency departments of failing to pick up on cases of child abuse.

It is estimated that between five and 10 percent of injuries to children seen in A&E departments are the result of abuse. The report says there is inadequate training to help staff recognise signs of maltreatment.

The inspectorate points out that only four percent of child abuse reports to related agency come from hospitals.

One of the report's authors says: "Dealing with child abuse is one of the central roles of a hospital". He says A&E units will be subject to more rigorous inspections in 2009 and could risk a ministry fine if they do not show sufficient improvement.

Tax dodges
De Telegraaf says the tax office has uncovered widespread fraud involving claims for special expenses.

A study of 600 tax returns for 2007 revealed a total of EUR 65 million being claimed back from tax for unusually high expenses. A further 355 returns contained huge claims for training costs, maintenance payments or donations.

More than 200 people claimed special sickness costs of over EUR 100,000. The figure in at least 45 cases topped EUR 1 million, with one person claiming EUR 19.5 million.

Another taxpayer claimed back 5 million euros in maintenance. A tax office spokesman says "We have reason to believe this is just the tip of the iceberg".

Do men or women eat more sweets?
Nrc.next devotes a page two article to solving an office row over whether men or women eat more sweets.

Utrecht University research indicates a difference between the sexes when it comes to chocolate. "[...]men just shovel it in, but women eat chocolate with more deliberation. They're more involved in the enjoyment. [..] and so it gives the impression that they eat more," says a scientist.

The most recent official survey actually ignored chocolate, but indicated that 46 percent of women and 39 percent of men eat sweets. However, the men in the test downed 15 percent more confectionery than the women.

The paper concludes more women eat sweets, but men eat more sweets.

[Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica]

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