No agreement yet on spending cuts, prime minister tells MPs

There is no question of a coalition agreement on the €6bn of extra spending cuts, prime minister Mark Rutte told parliament in a written briefing on Wednesday afternoon.



He was responding to a report in the NRC that the coalition had reached agreement on the cuts and where they will fall.


‘The cabinet has no plans to present a package next week,’ he wrote. Decisions about the budget will be taken in August and presented on Prinsjesdag (September 17).



Parliament is discussing the extra spending cuts on Wednesday and opposition MPs want clarification from the government on exactly how much will have to be cut and where the cuts will fall.


Both Rutte and finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem have agreed to cut a further €6bn in the next spending round which covers 2014. The additional savings are needed to bring the Dutch deficit down to the 3% demanded by EU budget commissioner Olli Rehn.



However, Diederik Samsom, leader of coalition party Labour, told parliament the 3% does not have to be reached in 2014. He also said he does not want the cuts to hit those on the lowest incomes.


He was contradicted by Halbe Zijlstra, leader of coalition party Liberal VVD, who said the 3% was the ‘guiding principle’. But he did not want to go into possible scenarios if the €6bn is not enough.

Value-added tax


Opposition MPs are concerned about the social agreement reached with unions and industry leaders earlier this year. They see this unravelling following criticism from the unions.



Where the extra cuts will fall, has yet to be decided, but a rise in value-added tax (btw) seems unlikely. VVD MP Erik Ziengs told website on Wednesday his party will not back an increase.


The debate continues.

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