Budget Discussion In The House
On Wednesday and Thursday the House will discuss the Dutch National Budget which was presented on Tuesday last week by the government. The opposition had a week to study and come up with alternatives.
The Budget discussion is one of the high lights in Dutch politics. It is an important issue and the opposition has the chance to bring in their points of view on how to manage the Netherlands. The CDA was the first opposition party who came with an alternative budget on Monday. The other parties which gave an alternative budget were D66, GroenLinks and ChristenUnie. SGP did not submit an alternative prior to the discussions, but is like CDA, GroenLinks, D66 and ChristenUnie, willing to negotiate their support to the government.
The other parties didn’t bother to submit other ways to do the cuttings. From the other parties, the PVV and SP have said that they are not willing to help the government by giving and taking.
Remarkable fact after reading the alternative budgets is that all of them result in a larger budget deficit then the plans of the government. Euro Commissioner Olli Rehn would like that the member reach a maximum budget deficit of 2.8% but the EU put the borderline to maximum 3%.
The government reaches according to the plans a deficit of 3.3%, the CDA 3.5%, D66 3.6%, ChristenUnie 3.8% and finally Groenlinks with 4.3%. Not one of the alternative budgets reaches the 6 billion euro cuts of the government. That the government doesn’t reach the 3% deficit is in the EU more or less accepted as long as they are able to push through the cuttings of 6 billion euro.
The coalition parties VVD and PvdA hold strong on the 6 billion on cuts.
The minister of Finance, who is also the head of the Euro Group, thinks that it is not possible to have less than 6 billion euro on cuttings. According to him the EU will simply not accept less cuts. Those parties who are willing to keep the 6 billion of cuttings, but want some of the government plans exchanged by some proposals of their own, make the best chance, according to Dijsselbloem.
The minister has already announced that he is open for alternatives. So is the content of the Social Agreement discussable.
In general the CDA wants a smaller central government, more jobs and less taxes. The amount they want to cut is only 2.7 billion euro. By changing the plans of the government they want to save 2.5 billion on costs for citizens and companies and they want to spend 1.2 billion more on the army, the police and the construction of roads.
D66 doesn’t want a baseline for the civil servants and wants to spend on these collective costs 2.1 billion. This is including half a billion for investments in education. The partie does not really have plans for cuttings and the costs for families and companies will be half a billion less. D66 says that they will not reach the 3% deficit now but following their plans should give a much better financial picture for the end of 2014.
GroenLinks wants to spend a lot of money, almost 12 billion euro. This vast amount will be spent on social security, reachability, devlopment cooperation, environment, health care and conditions of employment in the public sector. The party proposes cuts of 9.3 billion. 4.4 Billion euro of these cuts will be the abolishment of the care benefits.
The ChristenUnie is especially concerned about ‘the family’. Their proposal consists of less costs resulting in 2.4 billion euro. 1.7 billion of this amount will be spend on social security, health care and development cooperation. Total cuts would be 1.1 billion and this will be for a big part on education.
Reactions PvdA and VVD
Although PvdA minister Dijsselbloem thinks that it is discussable to accelerate some parts of the Social Agreement. Together with PvdA leader Diederik Samsom, the minister is not in favor to accelerate the modernization of rules for resignation and of the rules for the unemployment benefits. Both politicians have the opinion that this doesn’t bring any money in the next year.
Zijlstra of the VVD thinks however, that it should be possible to do the modernization of the rules for resignation immediately.
There is still a big difference between the coalition partners and the opposition but there are certainly interesting alternative plans submitted, according to Zijlstra.
PVV and SP
Of the other opposition parties PVV is the most negative about the budget proposal of the government. He wants that this government resigns immediately and he will submit, during the debate, a motion of no confidence.
The SP is also not willing to negotiate with the government and wants as soon as possible new elections.
Two interesting political days
It will be two interesting political days. On Wednesday the government can listen to the speeches and proposals of the opposition parties. On Thursday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte will answer the questions and will discuss the alternative proposals.
If this year will be as surprising as two years ago, when Wilders and Rutte had the famous ‘Act normal man’ discussion, remains the question.
The eyes will also be pointed on Zijlstra and Samsom. They have to defend the budget proposal of the government. It will be interesting to see if somebody is going to attack Samsom, who is well-known to have all the details immediately at hand.