On yer bike! Free public transport for kids idea derailed by cycling advocates :: Free rail passenger services for Takoradi, Tarkwa commuters :: Thrills @ Amakye Dede @ 45 Concert :: UTV Hosts Celebrities On New Year’s Day :: 2 past BoG Governors responsible for ‘rotten’ banking system – Joe Jackson :: Togolese Soldiers Intrusion Reported To Interpol :: GES announces reopening dates for Senior High Schools :: Socialists again call for action to ‘stop expats displacing Amsterdammers’ :: Kofi Annan''s Death; Ghana Flags To Fly At Half-Mast For One Week :: Let’s spend on the living not the dead – Palmer-Buckle to Ghanaians ::

Dutch News
Drink-drive police chief fined €950, banned for three months 1/22/2012
Drink-drive police chief fined €950, banned for three months
A senior Rotterdam police officer caught drunk-driving during the New Year festivities has been fined €950 and lost his licence for three months. The public prosecution department had called for a €1,500 fine and an eight-month driving ban, four months suspended. The officer was caught driving with four times the permitted level of alcohol in his blood on New Year''s Eve, according to media reports and is also the subject of an internal police investigation.
Higher health costs, lower pay rises hit spending power
Everyone will have less money to spend this year, as health care costs rise more than forecast and pay rises lag behind expectations, the family spending institute Nibud said on Friday. The government said in September spending power would drop by an average of 1% this year, but Nibud says reductions of below 1% are the exception and some households are over €100 a month worse off. The drop in spending power is due partly to higher health insurance costs, which rose well above government expectations. In addition, wages have gone up by an average 1.75%, not 2% as the government forecast. Inflation is also higher. Nibud''s calculations show a working couple with two children and household income of €60,000 a year will lose €29 a month in disposable income. But a traditional family, with two children and stay-at-home mum, with income of €35,000 will be out of pocket by €56. This is partly due to cuts in extra child benefits. A double income couple with no children earning €75,000 and €50,000 will be €106 a month worse off, Nibud says.

Amsterdam still popular with foreign firms
A total 118 international companies opened offices in Amsterdam and its surrounding area last year, virtually unchanged from 2010, ANP reports, quoting Carolien Gehrels, the city council official in charge of economic affairs. Most firms are active in IT, the creative industries and financial and business services, she said. The new arrivals created a total of 1,231 jobs, an average of just over 10 jobs per company. The news agency did not say how many companies, if any, had closed down. Most of the new firms (43) are American, followed by Asia (37) and Europe (35). Some 2,200 foreign firms now have a base in the capital of which around 25% are either Dutch or European headquarters.

The Hague to give €5,000 to tenants who buy their own home
Some people living in rent-controlled homes in The Hague will soon be eligible for a €5,000 bonus if they buy their own home, under city council plans launched on Wednesday. Buyers will also get a four-month interest payment holiday and a €10,000 grant to buy a newly-built property, the Financieele Dagblad says. However, there are conditions, the paper says. For example, only households earning more than €43,000 qualify and the home they leave behind must have at least five rooms. The paper says the council has set aside €3m to help social housing tenants get a foot on the property ladder. It hopes the scheme will encourage more people to buy a house, freeing up much-need rent-controlled properties for new families. Meanwhile, BNR radio reports a sharp increase in the number of people being forced to sell their homes because they can no longer afford to meet the payment terms. In 2011, there were 2,811 forced sales, compared with 2,086 in 2010.

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