Ministers present €7bn action plan

The cabinet on Thursday unveiled a 74-point plan to put government strategy into action. The initiatives were drawn up following ministers’ 100-day tour of the country to gather public opinion.

One commonly heard demand, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at the presentation, was that citizens be given more scope to do things themselves.
The cabinet would continue the process of public consultation, Balkenende said. ‘We are doing it to develop stronger policy and to achieve better results.’
In total, ministers have an extra €7bn to spend on new policy measures and €3bn for tax cuts.
Among the measures announced on Thursday was a delay in plans to introduce road pricing, which will not be introduced before 2012. The cabinet has also agreed to phase-in free school books and take measures to reduce college and university drop out rates.
Extra grants will be made available to talented students and schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils will get more cash. Immigrants will also be offered work experience while on integration courses.
The cabinet also plans to develop a central registry for stolen bikes and a code of conduct for the audio-visual media.
Left-wing MPs called the package of measures an anti-climax, while employers’ organisations said the cabinet was all words and no action. The cabinet needed to show much more drive and determination to strengthen the economy, employers said.

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