No advance copies of the government’s spending plans will be circulated to journalists ahead of budget day on September 15, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende told MPs on Thursday evening.
Journalists are usually given advance copies under embargo so they can prepare special budget sections in their newspapers.
But every year, much of the budget leaks out ahead of the official publication, much to ministers’ fury.
Last year, the NRC refused to sign the embargo and managed to obtain much of the budget detail from other sources. Newspapers which had signed the embargo were unable to publish any information until the official deadline.
The leaders of the various political parties in parliament will be given access to copies on Friday and Saturday, under strict embargo, the prime minister said.
Despite the secrecy, the weeks before the budget are often marked by a number of leaks about the cabinet’s plans. Political commentators say sometimes the news is circulated deliberately, to test public opinion.
Earlier this week, for example, it emerged that the cabinet is to cut pension payouts to couples in which one partner is aged under 55.
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