Opposition furious at economic plan

Opposition MPs on Thursday reacted angrily to ministers’ refusal to make changes to the package of measures drawn up to boost the economy and reduce the budget deficit.

Pieter van Geel, leader of the Christian Democrats, said at the start of Thursday’s debate there was very little if any room to make changes in the government’s plans.
Traditionally in the Netherlands, opposition MPs are able to suggest changes and win concessions when government finances are being debated.
No changes
The package, drawn up after weeks of tense talks between ministers and government party leaders, offered ‘extraordinarily little’ room for manoeuvre, Van Geel said. ‘That is clear, that is to be expected and you are very well aware of that,’ he said.
Geert Wilders and the rest of the anti-immigration party PVV walked out of the chamber in protest at ministers’ refusal to budge.
‘The core of debate means that as opposition you can have some influence,’ the Telegraaf reported Wilders as saying. ‘If we are told in advance there is little chance of that, we are sitting in a North Korean parliament.’
Pay freeze
Socialist party leader Agnes Kant was critical of the pay freeze which had been incorporated into the plan. ‘It is not a sign of solidarity to demand a pay freeze for all workers, to freeze social security benefits and then hand out big pay rises at the top,’ she said.
Yesterday the government announced a €6bn programme of investments aimed at boosting the economy. These focus on extra spending on insulating homes, schools and nursing homes, the building of new hospitals and schools, other infrastructure improvements and an end to the extra tax on flying.
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