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Dutch News
Election: Prime minister breaks his silence, calls for lower taxes 8/26/2012
Wednesday 22 August 2012
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’.
High taxes
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.

New rent rules cut availability of cheap housing
Tuesday 21 August 2012
New rules for social housing rents have made it virtually impossible to find cheap homes in places like Amsterdam and Utrecht, according to tenants’ rights organisations.
Since October landlords have been allowed to increase the price of rent-controlled properties in areas with a housing shortage by up to an extra €120 a month for new tenants.
Since then, there has been a sharp drop in housing costing €300-€500 a month and an increase in properties with a rent of between €600 and €700. Low income families who have moved home since the changes are now paying 42% of their net income on housing, the organisations say.
The report is based on 750 complaints made by tenants to housing groups and political parties. Most complaints were made by people looking for a new home, who say the new rules have made it impossible for them to move.

Election: healthcare insurance changes opposed by most voters
Saturday 25 August 2012
Some 79% of Dutch voters oppose any increase in the healthcare own risk charge and 63% are against changes in the basic insurance package, according to research for television show EenVandaag.
The only change suggested so far during the election campaign is to make healthcare premiums income dependent.
One in three think older people should have to use their own money to pay for residential nursing care and 54% are opposed.
Flat fee
The research involved 28,000 people who are members of the EenVandaag opinion panel.
Currently everyone pays a flat fee of around €100 a month for health insurance, plus the first €220 of their treatment. That own-risk element is due to rise to €350 next year.
Coping with rising healthcare costs is central to the current election campaign, with several parties calling for a cut in provisions and higher fees.
The right-wing VVD, for example, want to reduce the basic healthcare package and let family doctor visits be covered by the own risk. The D66 Liberals, by contrast, want to increase the own risk element and Labour want to increase premiums for high earners.

New border surveillance system in line with EU rules, says minister
Friday 24 August 2012

A new camera-based surveillance system used by immigration police at Dutch national borders allows the Netherlands to carry out stringent checks on who is coming into the country without breaking EU free movement rules, according to immigration minister Gerd Leers.
The new system, named @migoboras, recognises suspect cars entering and leaving the Netherlands from a database which uses traffic flow analysis. Vehicles are picked out for inspection based on their being ‘a certain type or colour, or passing at certain times, possibly in combination with other vehicles,’ the defence ministry says.
The system, which came into effect at the beginning of this month, was presented to the press on Thursday. The cameras have been installed at the 15 most important border crossings with Belgium and Germany.
‘The system supports border monitoring which means we can be more alert in signalling abuse of the open borders, such as people and drugs smuggling,’ Leers said.
The minister said the surveillance system operates without storing personal details. ‘I want to ensure we carry out tough checks without breaking the principle of free movement, to remove the people who should not be here.’
According to the Dutch government, the ‘European Commission has indicated that it has no objection to the use of the camera system in support of mobile immigration controls’.
@migoboras is an acronym standing for ‘Mobile Information-Driven Action – Better Operational Results and Advanced Security’

Civil service pension fund ABP may cut pay outs by up to 15%
Wednesday 22 August 2012

One of the biggest pension funds in the world, the Dutch civil service fund ABP, may have to cut pensions next year and again in two years time in order to keep its finances in order, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.
The paper bases its claim on confidential documents from the pension fund, which covers some three million workers and pensioners.
The current method of calculating pension funds’ coverage ratio - the amount of assets needed to meet pension obligations - could mean ‘reductions mount up to between 10% and 15%’, the document states.
The fund has already agreed to cut pensions by 0.5% next year. However, talks are under way between ministers and the central bank on changing the way interest rates used to determine the coverage ratio is calculated.
The document also states that if nothing is done to change the calculations, premiums for 17 big funds could rise by 28.5%.
Hundreds of thousands of pensioners are likely to get smaller pay-outs next year because pension funds have been hit by lower interest rates and the economic downturn

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