Ministers discuss fall in spending power

Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and most of his cabinet are today holding their first meeting since the summer holidays and will discuss the budget for the coming year. Their biggest problem is the fall in consumer power forecast for 2008.

According to new figures from the central planning office (CPB), households face an average decrease in spending power of at least 0.5% next year which is double earlier estimates, reports ANP news service.
For the elderly and people on minimum incomes, the loss in buying power could rise to 1% and the poorest pensioners could be even worse off unless the cabinet takes action.
The fall in consumer power is due partly to higher healthcare premiums and taxes and lower-than-expected wage rises.
Finance minister Wouter Bos promised before the holidays that he would do his best to ensure that those on low and mid-level incomes would not be worse off next year.
One piece of good news is that the government’s current budget deficit looks like turning into a 1% surplus next year, says ANP.

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