Dutch news in brief, Thursday 30 October 2008

30th 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.

30 October 2008

Congo refugees receive aid package
Trouw's front page on Thursday is dominated by a photo of refugees fleeing the violence in Congo, and we have to turn to an inside page for some domestic news. On page four, we are told the government is handing out packs of emergency supplies as part of its "Think Ahead" campaign.

The hope is that people will take precautions so as to be able to survive the first days following a disaster. The packs contain a range of essentials, including a torch, a first aid kit, a radio, matches, candles, whistles and an SOS flag. Supermarkets are being called on to stock the packs.

Citizens will be expected to store enough long-life food and water to survive for at least three days. "The stress is on the ability to cope for oneself,' says an interior ministry spokesman.”People shouldn't expect the emergency services to be at the ready within hours."

Unknown figures for fires in home
Today's papers all lead with different domestic stories. De Volkskrant covers a new report from the Dutch Institute for Physical Safety which calls into question official figures on the causes of fires in the home. In 2007, there were 27 deaths following such fires, and the tally for this year is already 50.

The new information is based on press coverage rather than on report sheets filled in by firefighters after blazes. "When a fireman comes home from a job at three in the morning, he just can't be bothered to fill it in," says the report's author, René Hagen. This explains why the cause of the fire is given as "unknown" or "other" in 60 percent of cases.

He says most fires begin in the kitchen, with the misuse of appliances such as frying pans. There are also many highly flammable objects in the modern home. "In the past, you only had one television, now they're in every room. A burning cigarette on the sofa, and those plastic sets merrily join in the blaze. In three minutes, the whole house is an inferno," he warns.

Withdrawal symptoms
De Telegraaf says it will be a disaster if MPs vote for a government proposal to limit the health insurance cover on sleeping pills and tranquillisers.

The chemists' umbrella organisation says: "Just stopping this kind of medication from one day to the other is asking for trouble. Huge numbers of users will face the certainty of withdrawal symptoms."

Health Insurance company Achmea put the number of users of such medicines at 1.2 million and says 700,000 of these are addicted to the tablets.

Dutch withdrew record EUR 3 billion from banks in September
The AD reports on figures from Statistics Netherlands showing Dutch savers took EUR 3 billion from bank accounts during September, the highest monthly amount withdrawn for a decade.

An economist is surprised: "You normally see less saved and more spent in December, but that's because of the holidays," he explains. The authorities have no idea what the money is being used to buy.

The paper points out the massive savings withdrawal puts a different light on the call by the Dutch trade union leader, Agnes Jongerius, for the government to release money held in save-as-you-earn schemes. Her idea was designed to increase consumer confidence in these difficult times.

Amsterdam authorities fail to handle new metro line problems
NRC Handelsblad covers a damning report by the Amsterdam ombudsman into the subsidence of six listed buildings due to work on a new metro line in the capital. The historic houses were so badly damaged that residents had to move out.

He says the council gave local people "insufficient and in some cases incorrect information," and concludes that "there is little positive to say about the way the authorities handled the incident".

In June, work on Amsterdam's North-South metro line was halted when four houses subsided. Work resumed in September but, after just one day, major subsidence occurred this time in six houses.

"Clearly a lot went wrong," admits a councillor. "We have learned a number of difficult lessons which should improve our handling of the project."

Rijkman Groenink's suggestion to head ABN Amro not welcomed
Finally, De Telegraaf reports that MPs are less than enthusiastic over former ABN Amro bank boss Rijkman (literally rich-man) Groenink's suggestion he should represent the government on the board of the newly nationalised Dutch arm of the bank. "No one in the Netherlands has as much experience and knowledge of ABN Amro as I," he is quoted as saying.

The paper suggests he will first have to repay the EUR 26 million he received when presiding over the earlier foreign takeover of the banking group.

[Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica]

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