"Netherlands is prepared for disasters"

24th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

"Netherlands is prepared for disasters"

24 August 2007

THE HAGUE – The cabinet does not agree with the impression that the Netherlands is not prepared to deal with a disaster, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Friday after the weekly cabinet meeting.

He was responding to reports earlier this week based on documents that were released after an appeal to the Public Access Act. The documents came from reports from 2005 and 2006 which were drawn up by civil servants instructed by the cabinet to chart out problem areas.

"Dated information," Balkenende said. "It is not the case that the cabinet has not done anything since then." The prime minister cited programmes to combat flooding, for which money has already been earmarked. When it comes to epidemics the Netherlands is in the "European top group" with regard to fighting the consequences. The security services the AIVD and MIVD have been expanded and are now cooperating better.

Balkenende said that the cabinet is making every effort to limit the risks as much as possible, but can never rule out dangers altogether.

The prime minister explained that the nature of the crisis determines which minister will be in charge of relief efforts.  The public health minister would be in charge in case of a health-related disaster, for example, while the justice minister would be in charge in case of a terrorist attack.

"If the incident involves more than one area" the home affairs minister has a special role, but "does not hold all the responsibility," Balkenende said. "Minister Ter Horst has also discussed it with us," Balkenende said, who also added that the matter would be subject to further discussion in the cabinet.

Home Affairs Minister Guusje ter Horst said on Thursday that she wants to be in charge in case of a disaster and that she wants to get rid of the polder model, which requires consultation with other ministers before a decision is taken.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

0 Comments To This Article