Opposition parties from across the political spectrum launched their attacks on the government’s 2009 budget during the first day of the general debate on the spending plans on Wednesday.
Left wing parties accused the cabinet of ignoring the needs of the elderly and the sick, who are the only group to face a possible reduction in spending power.
‘This cabinet is not working towards making the Netherlands a more humane place,’ Socialist Party leader Agnes Kant (photo) said. ‘It is extremely disappointing…The cabinet has done nothing for the past 18 months.’
On the other hand, Mark Rutte, leader of the right-wing Liberal party (VVD) said the government’s spending plan is ‘a classic Labour’ budget and the €2.5bn-worth of tax cuts are financed from thin air. ‘Buy now, pay in 2010,’ the Telegraaf quoted him as saying.
And former VVD leader Gerrit Zalm, who was finance minister for 12 years, told the Financieele Dagblad that cuts need to be made to pay for the lower tax burden.
The three coalition parties – Christian Democrats (CDA), Labour (PvdA) and orthodox CU – traditionally use the first day of the budget debate to make extra demands on ministers.
This year, for example, the PvdA wants more money for schools in deprived areas, while the CDA is calling for more cash for coastal defences and housing.
However, according to NOS tv, finance minister Wouter Bos has made it clear that there is no more money and that cuts will have to be made elsewhere to fund their wishes.
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