Labour gives leaders ‘room to manoeuvre’

Delegates at the Labour party’s annual congress at the weekend agreed that their leaders must have room to manoeuvre in their negotiations with coalition partners who are currently trying to draw up a rescue package for the country’s economy.

But Monday’s Volkskrant reports that Labour members will not accept further cuts in aid to developing countries as a way of paying for the extra investment.
And Labour’s parliamentary leader Mariette Hamer denied a suggestion made by the aid organisation Cordaid at the weekend that cuts of €1.25bn in the foreign aid budget are on the negotiation table, says the Volkskrant.
Labour delegates said the foreign aid ministry has already had its spending reduced by €350m and that no more cuts should be made.
Master plan first
Hamer told the congress that Labour wants its coalition partners to agree to a ‘master plan’ on how to tackle the recession before discussing what ‘painful’ steps will have to be taken to pay for rescue measures, reports the Financieele Dagblad.
Tackling youth unemployment and protecting social services are Labour’s priorities in the ongoing cabinet talks to put together a rescue package for the country’s economy, she said.
Finance minister Wouter Bos promised delegates that although Labour wants to pump cash into the economy in the short term, he will ensure that the government’s books will eventually be balanced.
And he said that he wants to make legal agreements on how the budget deficit and national debt will be reduced.
Last week Labour recommended spending up to €8bn to stimulate the economy with cutbacks put on hold until after the crisis is under control.
But the Christian Democrats want a more cautious approach with less immediate spending and a more short-term solution on how to pay for the rescue package.
The talks between coalition party leaders are due to continue on Monday.

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