Budget: prime minister replies to critics

Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has hit back at critics who say the government’s 2010 budget merely postpones difficult decisions. In an interview with news agency ANP, Balkenende dismissed this as ‘rhetoric’.

The prime minister said the cabinet had chosen to make investments next year to stimulate the economy but that cuts would be necessary thereafter to get government finances back on track.
And he rejected the claim from both inside and outside parliament that the decision to spend the coming six months considering fundamental policy changes means the cabinet is procrastinating. ‘Absolutely not. But we’re talking about far-reaching and complicated issues so we must take care,’ he said.
Balkenende also repeated the warning made by queen Beatrix in her traditional budget day speech when she said the effects of the economic recession would be felt for many years. Balkenende said he is confident that citizens will be able to cope: ‘We have an entrepreneurial mentality, there is much know-how and Dutch businesses are doing well abroad,’ he said.
And like the queen, the prime minister said everyone would have to contribute to the recovery.
‘Youth unemployment is rising so young people must invest in themselves. People can also expect less from the government in the coming period. And responsibility in terms of wage demands is also extremely important,’ the PM is quoted as saying.

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