Dutch News (http://www.dutchnews.nl) Published 6th July 2012
The ruling right-wing Liberal party published its manifesto for the September general election on Friday and called for spending cuts of €24bn to restore order to government finances.
‘We can only emerge from this crisis in a stronger position if we are prepared to take tough measures now,’ prime minister and VVD campaign leader Mark Rutte said. ‘We need to straighten out the government’s finances, [in one four-year period] or we will end up like southern Europe.’
At the same time, the party is pledging to cut taxes by €5bn and spend an extra €3bn on education, public safety and infrastructure.
The savings will be made by chopping €9bn from the social security budget, €7bn from healthcare, €3bn on development aid and €5bn across other departments.
The plans involve dropping several measures agreed by five parties in the spring austerity agreement: commuters will not face a tax on their travel expenses and employers will not be made responsible for the first six months of unemployment benefit.
The main points:
- Total cuts of €24bn
- €3bn extra for education, public safety and infrastructure
- €3bn to be cut from aid budget
- The planned commuter tax will not be introduced
- Unemployment benefit will be increased but for a shorter period. Employers will not pay the first six months
- Shopkeepers to have free choice about opening on Sunday
- State pension age to rise to 67 in 2018
- Student grants and fines for slow students to be scrapped
- Basic healthcare package to be reduced
- Visits to family doctors to fall under own risk payment
- €250m a year to be spent on new roads
- Mortgage tax relief to be scrapped for all but repayment mortgages
- Lower house of parliament to be reduced from 150 to 100 MPs, senate from 75 to 50 senators
- Pay freeze for civil servants to 2014
- Tougher immigration rules, possibly through EU opt-out
- €2bn annual reduction in Dutch contribution to Brussels
- Public television channels to be reduced from three to two
- No tax on savings up to €35,000