Number of Dutch cabinet ministers to be cut

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The three parties negotiating an agreement to form a centre-right government in the Netherlands have agreed to cut the number of ministries.

Daily , quoting sources close to the negotiations, says that there will be a new Ministry of Town and Country planning which will incorporate the current Ministries of Transport, Public Health and the Environment. Two other ministries, for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, will merge into a new Ministry of Industry.

The changes reflect the desire of the three parties - free-market liberal VVD, Christian Democrat Appeal CDA, and Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Freedom Party - to reduce government bureaucracy. A plan for a smaller budget for development aid has been rejected by the Christian Democrats, despite pressure from VVD and the Freedom Party.

Law and order Both VVD and Freedom Party campaigned for a less forgiving, more law-and-order style of policing. According to the newspaper report, this would be reflected in a new Security and Law Ministry, consisting of the Justice Ministry which will take over responsibility for the police force from the Interior Ministry. The latter will remain in smaller form, focusing on local government.

Two so-called project Ministries, which were very much the expression of the political views of earlier cabinets, will be dismantled. They are the Ministry for Housing, Neighbourhoods and Integration, and the Ministry for Youth and Family.

The three-party negotiations are being held behind closed doors, and very little information is released. It is still unclear how the three parties will bring about the 18 billion euro budget cuts that were agreed to be necessary.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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