Prime minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte broke his silence in the election campaign in the Telegraaf on Wednesday by calling for a €1,000 tax break for workers.
The tax break on work (arbeidskorting) should be increased by €330 in 2013 and by €1,000 in 2014, the right-wing Liberal party leader said in the interview. The tax break is currently €1,533 for people earning over €51,000.
‘Let us be totally clear. People who work should see that reflected in their wallets,’ Rutte said. Increasing the tax break means people who choose to work ‘keep more of their money to spend themselves and that is good for the economy’.
The Netherlands has one of the highest income tax rates in the world, with people paying 52% income tax on earnings over €56,492.
The party also plans to increase the tax break on pensions, but did not say by how much.
In addition, the VVD wants to reverse the €250m cuts in spending on childcare agreed in the spring budget deal reached with four other parties. ‘We have to take action to stop women giving up work,’ Rutte said.
Other party leaders were quick to criticise the plan to give every worker an extra €1,000 in disposable income.
‘Rutte is following [SP leader Emile] Roemer in handing out cheques with no guarantee,’ D66 leader Alexander Pechtold told Nos television. ‘But people will see through this.’
CDA leader Sybrand Buma said it was notable that at a time of serious economic crisis the prime minister is ‘promising everyone €1,000 a year’. ‘The question is, who will pay the bill?’ Buma said.
PVV leader Geert Wilders also broke his silence on Wednesday, calling in the AD for asylum seekers to be cared for outside the Netherlands, in countries like Romania.
This would reduce the nuisance caused by refugees and cut costs, the anti-immigration party leader said.
However neither Rutte, Wilders nor Roemer are taking part in tonight’s first election debate.
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