Dutch prime minister dismisses opposition criticism

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has dismissed criticism by the opposition that his coalition agreement does not contain any major reforms.

During the second day of debate in parliament about the new coalition agreement, he pointed out changes will be made to benefits for the disabled, retirment age will be raised, regional police forces will be replaced by a national force and teachers will in future have their pay linked to performance. The prime minister admitted that unemployment benefit and legislation on dismissal from employed are not set to change.

Opposition GreenLeft leader Femke Halsema retorted that creating a national police force will not have a long-term impact, nor will it help to create jobs or put government finances back in order.

Mr Rutte stressed that 80 percent of his brief to get the budget under control and deal with the rising costs caused by the ageing of the population will be achieved under the agreement. This will involved improving the government's financial position by 29 billion euros. He says his policies will yield 24 billion euros.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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