Budget: The show must go on

Tuesday’s newspapers nearly agree that this year’s budget presentation on Tuesday is not only a formality, but largely rather a waste of time.

The Volkskrant headlines its analysis ‘the budget can soon be binned’ and points out that everything finance minister Jan Kees de Jager announces this afternoon has already been agreed by a coalition that no longer exists.
‘We already know the VVD and PvdA and whoever else joins the new coalition government will do their best to change everything in it,’ the paper states.
The caretaker government’s 2013 spending plans were thrown together in April in an effort to meet an ultimatum by Brussels.
But the five parties which agreed it only control 75 of the 150 seats in the new look parliament, and the Christian Democrats and GroenLinks were heavily punished for their involvement, the paper states.
The VVD in particular is keen to make changes to the plans. ‘From nature to infrastructure, from unemployment to pensions; throughout its election manifesto the party states ‘this measure in the budget agreement will be reversed,’ the Volkskrant points out.
And the PvdA, the paper continues, had nothing to do with the spring agreement in the first place – and was heavily criticised for its position at the time.
Under the headline ‘bizarre budget’, the Financieele Dagblad says Tuesday’s presentation will give both the VVD and PvdA time to think about what other things they want to scrap from the spring austerity agreement.
For example, no-one wants the tax on travel expenses, which will raise €1.3bn, to go ahead, or the fine for slow students, which will bring in €200m.
Nevertheless, it is a bizarre situation, the paper says. ‘Without the budget, ministries will not have money to spend next year and elections and cabinet formations have to accept that. And that means the next cabinet will be saddled with the policies agreed by the old.’
‘But it is good the spring agreement is being adopted,’ the paper continues. ‘It is sensible to remain within Brussels’ budget demands, so as to be able to put pressure on countries which are getting financial support from Europe. And it is also sensible to reduce collective spending and create room for industry to flourish,’ the paper says.
The Parool focuses on the role of queen Beatrix who traditionally opens the parliamentary year with her speech from the throne, outlining government policy.
‘She will read out her speech in front of MPs who have started forming a new government without her involvement for the first time,’ the paper points out. ‘She will do her best in the full knowledge she is less involved.’
Not only is she reading out a speech written by a government which will be soon be dissolved, ‘she will read her speech to an audience, half of whom will be gone the next day,’ the paper states.

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