MPs from the three-party ruling coalition on Wednesday urged the government to do more to help children from poor families and to withdraw its budget plans to cut child benefit.
Speaking before the first day of the parliamentary debate on the 2008 budget, Labour MPs said that some 300,000 children in the Netherlands are growing up in poverty.
Labour and its coalition partners, the Christian Democrats (CDA) and ChristenUnie, also urged the cabinet to introduce free text books for all high-school pupils, not just for those in the first three years of secondary education as agreed in the budget.
Coalition MPs are also set to demand more government spending on defence next year.
Meanwhile CDA parliamentary party leader Pieter van Geel has questioned whether the measures announced yesterday to tackle top people’s pay – higher taxes on expensive homes, fewer tax breaks on pension premiums –actually meet society’s concerns about excessive bonuses and golden handshakes.
Mark Rutte, parliamentary leader of the main opposition free-market Liberals (VVD) said that finance minister Wouter Bos was increasing 18 different taxes.
It was a ‘clever performance’ to make everyone worse off at a time when the economy is booming, Rutte said. ‘The ordinary hard-working Dutch man and woman has to pay the bill.’
Instead, the government should be spending more on integration, on security and on combating traffic congestion, Rutte said.
Parliament traditionally debates the budget on the Wednesday and Thursday after its presentation.
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