No end date for three-party talks on cutting €9bn, says PM

Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday he cannot set an end date for the on-going negotiations between the minority government and anti-immigration PVV on drawing up a new package of cuts.

Talks on finding €9bn in savings to reduce the budget deficit in line with EU monetary union rules began over three weeks ago, and no end is yet in sight.
‘We are doing our best,’ Rutte said when questioned by MPs. ‘I cannot set a date… we are taking the necessary time. The problem is a big one…The most important thing is that we come up with a good package and that we agree.’
Meanwhile, finance minister Jan Kees de Jager told MPs on Tuesday a critical report on the Netherlands from US bank Citigroup supports government policy to get the budget deficit under control.
Citibank said in a note to investors on Friday the Netherlands should no longer be included in the ‘top group’ of European economies.
‘The poor performance of the Dutch economy should make it very difficult for the country to reduce its general government deficit,’ Citigroup chief economist Juergen Michels said in the report. The Netherlands is in a weaker position than Germany, Finland and Luxembourg, he said.
Wake-up call
The report is a serious wake up call, De Jager said. Nevertheless, the report is inaccurate in stating Dutch banks have made a major call for support from the European central bank and that the Netherlands is poised to get a ‘negative outlook’ from credit ratings agency S&P.
The first point is simply wrong and the second happened last September, the Telegraaf quoted De Jager as saying.
Revised figures from the national statistics office CBS on Tuesday showed the economy shrank 0.6% in the final quarter of 2011. Over the year as a whole, the economy grew by 1.2%.

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