Government pledges better times next year

The Netherlands is set to achieve a budget surplus of 0.2% in 2007 while the economy will grow 3%, showing that years of tough economic policies have paid off, said finance minister Gerrit Zalm at today’s budget presentation.

The budget – generally seen as a ‘good news’ show – comes just nine weeks ahead of the general election.
The economy is on target to grow 3% next year and the national debt is set to fall to below 50% of GDP, said Zalm during the presentation of his 12th – and what many commentators believe will be his last – budget. Government spending, Zalm said, would go up by 1.5%.
Extra spending totalling €1 bn would come from tax windfalls and renegotiated payments to Brussels. This money is being equally divided between citizens and industry, he said.
The cabinet is striving to prepare the country for the future, said prime minister Jan Peter Balkendende in his speech ealier in the afternoon. To achieve this, government policy will focus on four areas: helping more people to find jobs, making people feel safer, increasing people’s respect for each other and reducing state regulations. Balkenende said the Netherlands was already in good shape, thanks not only to government policy, but also to the effort of people themselves.

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