MPs debate autumn budget agreement with Rutte and Samsom
Liberal leader and prime minister Mark Rutte and Labour’s Diederik Samsom were set to defend their mini autumn budget agreement in a debate with the new-look parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
The debate has been called by a number of parties who were involved in working out the spring budget agreement after the coalition government collapsed. Large parts of that deal have now been dropped.
On Monday, Rutte and Samsom, who are in the middle of negotiations on forming a new coalition government, said they had reached agreement to change or scrap a number of the outgoing government’s spending plans for 2013.
In particular, they agreed to scrap plans to tax travel expenses and charge higher fees to students who take too long to complete a degree. In return, the tax on insurance is to be more than doubled to 21%.
The measures have been mostly welcomed by interest groups, according to media reports on Tuesday.
Dutch Rail, public transport users’ organisation Rover and motoring organisations ANWB and Bovag are pleased the tax on travel expenses has been scrapped. Dutch Rail calculates that,
depending on the type of travel card, people would have been hit by an extra cost of up to
several hundred euros.
Rover said it wants to safeguard the environment but mobility is very important, too. ‘People mustn’t be punished for going to work’, Rover comments.
Bovag also says ‘putting the breaks on mobility’ would not be a good move in a time of crisis.
Environmental organisation Milieudefensie hopes measures to limit car use will find their way into the final government agreement. A tax on the number of kilometres travelled would be the obvious way. It will get people out of their cars and on to public transport, the organisation says.
Student union LSVB is ‘euphoric’ the higher fees for slow students – a €3,000 fine for a delay of one year or more on top of the annual college fees – has been relegated to the dustbin. The question now is whether or not a ‘social student loan system’ will take the place of the fine.
Mental healthcare organisation GGZ, patient federation NPCF and several big city council executives in charge of care say scrapping the extra mental healthcare contribution and the €7.50 hospital bed tax is very good news indeed.
The GGZ says the scrapping of the ‘bed tax’ shows ‘politicians are willing to find solutions which don’t put the burden on patients alone’.
However, the organisation fears the mental health measure might result in inequality: ‘Why pay extra for a psychosis and not for a heart attack?’
Council executives think the measure would have put more people with mental health issues on the streets and undermined ongoing projects.
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