Dutch PM: budget cuts unavoidable

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Cuts in health care and social services are unavoidable in order to maintain essential services, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte argued on the second and final day of the parliamentary debate on the government’s 2012 budget.

If the cabinet fails to introduce budget cuts, the PM warned, services such as the personal health budget and sheltered workshops will disappear within ten years.

The centre-right government is taking drastic measures, Mr Rutte explained, because of the soaring cost of a number of services. He also called for state aid to focus on those who really need them.

Much of the debate centred on the personal health budget. The opposition accused the government of “ruining” the service, which allows people to control their own health care funds. Some 130,000 people are currently using the scheme.

The prime minister dismissed the allegations as a distorting caricature. Those who most need it, he claimed, would continue to receive a personal health budget, and “tailored solutions” would be sought for all other cases.

In his introduction, Mr Rutte stressed that the “looming storm” caused by the current debt crisis made it imperative for the cabinet to balance its books and boost economic growth.

The prime minister resisted calls to discuss the style and wording used by Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders during Wednesday’s debate. Many, both in the two government parties and among the opposition, were shocked by Mr Wilder’s words and manner, which they characterised as rude and vulgar and inappropriate for a parliamentary debate. 

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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