Budget: state debt reaches record low

The government will cut taxes and premiums by €2.5bn in 2009 to maintain purchasing power and counter a downturn in the economy, according to budget details published by the NRC Handelsblad on Saturday.

The newspaper said it had obtained the documents via normal reporting practices and had an obligation to publish.
The budget contains few surprises and most of the main points have already been leaked over the past weeks. Among other new measures the government plans to introduce is a bonus of €3,000 (maximum) a year for people who continue to work after the age of 62.
The Netherlands faces a year of uncertainty in 2009 and the situation requires the cabinet to steer the country well and a ‘sensible attitude’ from employers and unions’, finance minister Wouter Bos was quoted by the paper as saying.
Nevertheless, the country is in good financial condition. State debt will decrease to 39.6% of gross domestic product next year, its lowest level since records began in 1814, the paper reports. The budget surplus will expand to 1.2% of gross domestic product, higher than the government had expected.
Because the NRC’s story is based on leaks, there was no official cabinet reaction. However, former finance minister Gerrit Zalm (Liberal) told a tv programme that cuts in taxes needed to be paid for by a reduction in government spending elsewhere.
DutchNews.nl will publish a summary of the main budget news on Tuesday evening

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