Praise for Zalm as he quits politics

Politicians from across the political spectrum have being paying tribute to the country’s longest serving finance minister, Gerrit Zalm (Liberal), today following his announcement that he is to leave politics.

Zalm, who is also deputy prime minister, became finance minister in 1994. He is famous for what has become known as the ‘Zalm norm’ – strict rules for government expenditure. These include a fixed budget limit for every department with the minister him or herself responsible for solving shortfalls.
Zalm’s economic vision has many supporters. The Financial Times recently called him one of the best finance ministers in Europe. And today’s Financieele Dagblad points out that under his guidance, Holland’s national debt has fallen to 47.9% of gross national product from 74.7%. The budget deficit will also see a modest surplus next year.
Christian Democrat MP Maxim Verhagen said Zalm is one of Holland’s leading politicians of the last 15 years. And Labour MP Ferd Crone, with whom Zalm often clashed during debates, says he respects the VVD minister’s professionalism.
According to the FD, Zalm (54) is tipped for a top position at the Dutch Central Bank or with the financial sector watchdog AFM. Other sources suggest he is heading for a job with ABN Amro. Zalm hinted he would quit politics back in the summer but confirmed his decision on Sunday less than a week after the Liberals (VVD) lost more than one quarter of their seats in the election.

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