Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 16:50
Opposition slams secret cabinet tax reform deal
With reporting by Zack Newmark. The coalition parties reached an agreement on reform of the tax system, State Secretary Eric Wiebes announced on Wednesday. The announcement came amid increasing pressure from the opposition that the cabinet cannot find a compromise on the tax reform. The agreement between the ruling coalition cannot be made public, Prime Minster Mark Rutte of the conservative VVD party said in Brussels. Meanwhile, VVD party leader Halbe Zijlstra said it was premature to say his party and its coalition partner, the left-wing labour party PvdA, have a final agreement. Zijlstra alluded to a framework of main points set in place, but several finer details were still in negotiation. The opposition called on Rutte to release the details of the agreement and allow debates over its terms in the Tweede Kamer. Rutte responded by saying that for now, the deal could only succeed in the backroom talks. Like Zijlstra, he stressed that VVD and PvdA were still putting final touches to the agreement. Socialist SP leader Emile Roemer demanded that the government makes the agreement public. The negotiations should happen in public, not behind closed doors, he said. To avert the pressure from the opposition, the government decided last year on budget day to aim for simplifying the tax system and lower taxation burden on labor. Those two goals are a broad political consensus among most parties. The coalition will need to court several opposition party senators in order to get the deal past the upper house of parliament, the Eerste Kamer. The ruling cabinet has a minority level of support in the upper house, reduced further after the recent provincial elections.