Rutte upbeat after budget address

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Prime Minister Mark Rutte is positive about the budget plans for next year. In an interview with the Algemeen Dagblad, he emphasizes that his Cabinet will have to "stay the course in uncertain times." 

Rutte addresses several points on the budget as leaning towards a positive future for The Netherlands, but presses that the Cabinet should not now sit back, and that there is still more work to do.

The Prime Minister agrees that 605,000 unemployed is an improvement from last year but that it is still far too high. He explains several measures to keep pushing that number down, like the extension of right to childcare allowance from three to six months. A scheme to allow the unemployed to re-train themselves while keeping their benefits, making it cheaper for companies to employe them.

Rutte also says that a new tax system should create 100,000 jobs in the long run, but this will only be after 10 years. Rutte emphasizes that it is not down to the government to create jobs, but to the trade and industry sector. The government does what it can to help, by making loans more accessible. "As government we can only solve unemployment by taking everyone into service like in a communist system. We're not planning that." A new tax system should also decrease tax burdens for labour.

The economy is improving, Rutte says, but it will only improve if the Cabinet stays the course. "If you only look at the Dutch economy, then we really are improving. Export is improving, consumer spending is up, companies are investing more. But we're not there yet."

One effect on the economy that is a Dutch as well as international concern, and one which Rutte acknowledges, is the fight against terrorism. "Of course we see international risks. That's why we are also participating in the coalition to fight IS. And we are busy with Russia and Ukraine. We work hard to keep those threats on the other side of the door. But of course it can have an effect on our economy."

Furthermore, Rutte says there will be no more cuts. He says there is actually still room in the budget, but that the Cabinet will be hesitant in spending extra funds. "And I really think that despite all threats we will achieve 1.25 percent growth."

Defense will receive an extra €100 million per year, which comes after the agreement to make cuts to Defense. Rutte says that there will be more money spent on Defense if it becomes available.

As for his Cabinet, Rutte says that there are still plans in the works. "Housing corporations will be tackled. There has to be a new pension system. And then there are still all those restructuring plans that have to be brought in: elderly care, youth care, social workplaces, the new flex law", Rutte says. "A lot will change next year, and it has to be put on the right course."