It is that time of year again. The schools are almost all back, there are hopes of an Indian summer… and the first of the pre-budget leaks have hit the papers.
The pre-budget leak is a traditional Dutch custom. Between the end of the summer holidays and budget day on the third Tuesday in September, ministers and civil servants appear to orchestrate a steady drip drip drip of policy ideas which might be included in the government’s spending plans.
The idea seems to be to test the waters and find out how strong opposition to the plan is likely to be.
After all, there is still enough time to revamp ministry budgets and do an about-turn if the idea goes down like a lead balloon.
Ministers usually deny the leaks but newspapers are, of course, ever keen to get their hands on a scoop. A leaked draft of the spending plans for ministry X or Y always makes a welcome front page splash.
The latest macro-economic forecasts, which includes projections for inflation and so on, are particularly sought-after by hungry hacks.
So now we have had the two cent rise in the price of a bottle of beer and the €600m cut in spending on the elderly. And that is just the start. Over the next few weeks, the slow trickle of leaks will turn into a flood.
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