Coalition reaches tax deal, but details still secret

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No image availableNL Times

After a week of speculation, the Dutch cabinet has reached an agreement to a package of reforms for the country’s tax system. The governing coalition, consisting of the right wing VVD and left wing PvdA (Labour) parties, has negotiated the deal almost entirely in secret, and will hear from a handful of opposition parties behind closed doors only, Labour leader Diederik Samsom said on Monday.

No details related to the plan itself were disclosed.

“I can not remember [a time] that if you are having such a meeting in a public debate that you will come to a solution," VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra told ANP newswire. “Now we are going to invite those parties that have made proposals in the past that match up with what we see in the big picture.”

No agreement is possible without support from opposition parties, as the coalition does not have a majority in the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch senate. As it stands, the deal was reached after talks between Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Finance Secretary Eric Wiebes, along with the two party leaders.

Opposition parties expected to take place in the backrooms dealings are the CDA, D66 and GroenLinks. However, CDA leader Sybrand Buma criticized Rutte for the secret negotiation. He reportedly said he only wants to discuss the tax plan in front of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold agrees to the need for public debate, but is willing to sit with Wiebes, as is ChristenUnie leader Arie Slob, and newly-anointed GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver.

Socialist SP leader Emile Roemer will boycott meeting Wiebes in secret, continuing his protest against the underground dealmaking. Conservative Christian party SGP has not made a decision, ANP reported.

Samson said many of the opposition ideas made it into the draft agreement. He thinks many opposition parties know that changes to the tax system are necessary.