Government criticised over possible extra cuts

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Opposition parties have crticised the government for throwing up a smoke-screen to cover up the impact of proposed cuts after Prime Minister Mark Rutte said more cuts may be necessary in 2013.

The Labour Party accused the prime minister of causing commotion by announcing more possible cuts without clarifying where they will be made. Labour MP Ronald Plasterk has called for an explanation. The democrats D66 leader Alexander Pechtold accused the prime minister of making new plans before realising the old ones.

On Friday, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen said more cuts might be necessary after 2012 on top of the 18 billion euros in cuts already budgetted for next year. Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders called the PM's comments "premature".

In the coalition agreement, the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats promised to tackle the budget deficit by 2015. The cuts are supported by the Freedom Party in parliament. A raft of measures to bring down the debt have already been announced. However, the coalition parties have also agreed that extra measures can be taken if the cuts fall 1 percent behind schedule.

On the third Tuesday in September, the cabinet will present its budget for next year on ‘Prince’s Day’. Up to now, Prime Minister Rutte and Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager have said no extra cuts would be necessary in 2012. However, as the international debt crisis continues, and more blows to the Dutch economy can't be ruled out, Minister de Jager admits ther are “no guarantees” that extra cuts will not be necessary.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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