The main right-wing opposition party, the free-market Liberals (VVD), have accused the cabinet of not doing enough in terms of integration and immigration, security and combating traffic congestion in the 2008 budget.
‘The cabinet is going to spend billions more euros and let the ordinary, hardworking Dutchman pay the bill,’ said VVD party leader Mark Rutte.
The Socialist Party and left-wing GroenLinks both condemned the cabinet for not doing enough to counteract poverty.
But Jacques Tichelaar, parliamentary party leader of the government coalition Labour party, said the budget was the most ‘socially aware’ put together by prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
The prime minister is currently heading his fourth cabinet but the present one is the first to include Labour as a coalition partner.
‘This budget is strong, green and social,’ Tichelaar said. ‘This government is investing in work, urban renewal, the environment, healthcare and education and at the same time is en route to a record low national debt,’ he said.
Trade union federations FNV and CNV said the budget was a ‘decent step in the right direction’.
The cabinet is right to make it easier and cheaper to work and to make it more expensive to consume.
While the measures in the budget will affect spending power, it would be ‘irresponsible’ to pass the bill for investing in the future on to the next generation, CNV chairman René Paas said.
However, both union leaders condemned the cabinet’s commitment to reforming redundancy law and pledged to continue to fight against the plans.
Environmental organisation Greenpeace said the cabinet had made it clear it has ambitious environmental targets and now needs to show the necessary ‘political guts and control’ to achieve them, director Liesbeth van Tongeren said in a statement.
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