Benefit applications soar due to financial crisis

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There has been a major increase in the number of unemployment benefit applications in the wake of the credit crisis.

AMSTERDAM --  In a parliamentary debate on the crisis, Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner reported that there have been 13,000 applications a week so far this month. In January last year the figure was 5,000 a week. December also showed a considerable increase in applications compared to the months before the crisis.

In a debate in parliament on Wednesday evening, the opposition on both left and right criticised the government for is doing too little to boost the economy. Finance Minister Wouter Bos responded by saying he could not simply hand out cash to anyone who asked for it. He said employers and trade unions had to be prepared to reciprocate for government support.

It also emerged that Bos is considering the possibility of buying up banks' toxic assets and housing them in a "bad bank". Similar moves are also being considered in the United States, Britain and Belgium. He said the nationalisation of elements of the Dutch banking system was also an option.

De Volkskrant newspaper reports today that the credit crisis is also impacting on top executives, whose have seen a drastic reduction in their bonuses for 2008. Due to stock market losses their earnings from shares and options fell by 80 percent.

The highest bonus went to Stork top executive Sjoerd Vollebregt, who pocketed almost four million euros. This contrasts with the pre-crisis bonus record by Numico's Jan Bennink, who took home 75 million euros in 2007. The Dutch Shareholders Association says it still finds bonus levels excessive.

Radio Netherlands/ Expatica

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