Tags: Dutch | Government | Cut | Jobs | Social | Benefits

Dutch Government Aims to Cut Jobs, Social Benefits

Tuesday, 21 Sep 2010 07:47 AM

As conservative parties negotiate a new government, the Netherlands' outgoing Cabinet was due to present on Tuesday an austere budget for 2011 that will slash government jobs, spending on immigrants, and tax breaks for families.

At the start of an afternoon full of ceremonies, rituals and conspicuous hats, Queen Beatrix rode through the streets of The Hague in her gold-trimmed horse-drawn carriage, waving to tens of thousands of fans who lined the route leading to the 13th-century Hall of Knights.

The event was disturbed briefly by a man who threw a wax candle holder at the Queen's coach and was then arrested, Hague police spokesman Wim Hoonhout said on NOS television. The motive was not known, and nobody was injured. The queen appeared unaffected and began a speech to both houses of Parliament shortly after the incident.

In the speech, she outlined the government's plans for the year ahead — despite the lack of a new Cabinet 104 days after national elections.

Outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's budget targets 3.2 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in cuts from the government's current level of around 270 billion euros in spending by 2015, reducing the deficit to 3.9 percent of economic output next year.

The Dutch economy is relatively healthy, with 1.5 percent growth forecast in 2011 and unemployment expected to fall to 5.5 percent.

Balkenende's plans include reducing the amount of money spent on integrating immigrants, mostly via mandatory language and citizenship classes. He will also cut 4,000 government jobs and reduce a tax break given to working parents with children in daycare.

Fines for speeding, failing to clean up dog excrement, and taxes on cigarettes will be increased.

Balkenende's plans may quickly be overshadowed by the government still in coalition-building talks, which is targeting a more rigorous 18 billion euros in cuts by 2015.

The Cabinet under negotiation includes the two traditional conservative parties, with outside support of the anti-Islam Freedom Party.

There was a heavy police and military presence in The Hague Tuesday since recent appearances of the Royal Family have been plagued by disturbances.

The most notable came in April 2009, when an unemployed loner targeted Beatrix and her family in an assassination attempt on the Queen's Day national holiday.

The man came within meters of slamming his car into an open-topped bus carrying the family before he swerved into a stone monument, killing himself and seven others.

With politicians bickering over the country's pension system since before the election, Dutch labor unions and employers' associations have agreed on their own accord to raise the national retirement age from 65 to 66 in 2020 and 67 in 2025.

The incoming government may attempt to effect those increases more quickly.

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As conservative parties negotiate a new government, the Netherlands' outgoing Cabinet was due to present on Tuesday an austere budget for 2011 that will slash government jobs, spending on immigrants, and tax breaks for families. At the start of an afternoon full of...
Dutch,Government,Cut,Jobs,Social,Benefits
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2010-47-21
Tuesday, 21 Sep 2010 07:47 AM
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