Coalition divided over deficit plan

The three coalition parties are divided over finance minister Wouter Bos’s plan to allow ministers to take longer term measures to bring their budgets under control following the discovery that the government has a far higher deficit than expected.

Labour (PvdA) MPs have praised party leader Bos, but the Christian Democrats (CDA) and ChristenUnie said they are surprised by the move. ‘This goes against what we have agreed,’ said the CDA’s parliamentary leader Pieter van Geel.
Last week it emerged that the budget deficit could be at least 1% of gross domestic product, five times higher than expected. The cabinet agreement states the budget should show a surplus of 1% by 2011, a point which Bos reiterated on Tuesday evening.
The deficit has been caused by lower than expected income from natural gas and sharp overspending. The health ministry, for example, has over-run its budget by €1bn.

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