New cabinet gets down to work: it has three years, five months to go

The new cabinet gets down to work on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Roel Rozenburg/HH

Prime minister Mark Rutte’s third cabinet has wasted little time in getting down to work, with several ministers already appearing before the cameras to answer questions about current events.

New justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhuis told reporters on Friday morning that he would work hard to ensure that crown witnesses in major trials are properly protected by the state.

His comment came in answer to questions about the sisters of gangland leader Willem Holleeder, who are set to appear as important witnesses in his latest trial.

Astrid Holleeder, who has written a new book about her experiences as a potential witness, has told the Telegraaf that she and her sister will not give any more statements until their protection has been stepped up.

Finance

Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra spoke to reporters on his way to Friday’s cabinet meeting by emphasising the importance of a ‘balanced’ strategy.

‘We have an agenda which includes a lot of investment in education, care and sustainability,’ he said. ‘In addition, it is important that we keep a close eye on the money.’

Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said the modernisation of the labour market is crucial. ‘From permanent contracts to flexible contracts and freelancers… I am going to do my best for them all,’ he told the waiting press.

Prime minister Mark Rutte will read the new government’s declaration in parliament next Wednesday, which will be followed by two days of debate. All ministers will take part.

Home owners

According to the AD, the new government plans to bring back the tax on home ownership for people who have paid off their mortgages before the end of the year.

The tax, known as the eigenwoningforfait, is currently paid by home owners with a mortgage and is based on the value of their property. It is seen as compensation for the tax break on mortgages which home buyers enjoy.

The new government plans to bring this tax back for people who have paid off their mortgages over a period of 30 years. It was abolished in 2005.