‘Recession-busting plan next Friday’

The government’s package of measures to counteract the worst effects of the recession should be finalised by next Friday, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at his weekly press conference.

‘Next week it will be even more intensive,’ the prime minister said. ‘We are faced with a complex economic problem. Speed is essential,’ he said, but refused to give any details of discussions.
On Thursday union chiefs warned ministers not to attempt to break open agreed pay deals, cut pensions or increase the retirement age. Ministers must not take ‘any steps which will increase rather than decrease unrest,’ Agnes Jongerius, head of the country’s biggest trade union federation FNV said on Thursday night.
And plans to reduce pensions or force a rethink of existing pay deals will lead to ‘big problems’, Jongerius said on the Nova current affairs tv show.
Senior ministers yesterday held their first talks on a package of recession-busting measures, based on the recommendations of a group of top civil servants.
Finance minister Wouter Bos told the tv show that the first round had gone extremely well and the discussions had been intense and constructive. There are sharp differences between the ideas of the three ruling parties about the best steps to take.
For example, the Labour party wants a cap on mortgage tax relief on houses worth more than €1m and the ChristenUnie is opposed to any cuts in tax breaks for non-working partners.

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