Economy in good shape: finance minister

The Dutch economy will not remain unscathed by the turmoil taking place on the international financial markets but it is well-placed to weather these events, finance minister Wouter Bos told MPs once again on Tuesday.

In his speech outlining the government’s spending plans for 2009, Bos said the country is ‘standing firm in a trembling world’.
The national economy has benefited from the strong supervision of its banks and insurance companies, cautious budgets, measures to reduce the threat of a wage spiral and efforts to make labour cheap, he said. ‘These are all choices [we have made] and they seem to make the difference’, Bos said.
While many people see the foreign developments as threatening, it would be wrong to cut the country off from the outside world, Bos said. ‘We would be severing the main artery that contributes to our wealth.’
The openness that has made the Netherlands what it is today is now making people unsure, he said: ‘As a worker you can benefit from the high returns your pension fund makes on investing in private equity companies, but as an ordinary citizen you may ask if they have not become too powerful.’
Many of the government’s spending plans were officially published or leaked in the run up to Tuesday’s presentation and there is little in the way of surprises in the 2009 budget.
Most households will be better off because of the €2.5bn package of tax cuts for people in work. But poor pensioners and people with chronic health problems will be hit by reductions in healthcare services.
MPs will debate Bos’s plans in the next two days and over the following weeks individual ministries’ budgets will be spotlighted.

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