Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 15:50
Opposition denounces 2016 budget, refugee plan as “empty promises”
Today the leaders of factions in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, is debating the 2016 budget which was presented at Prinsjesdag on Tuesday. As can be expected, the opposition parties have a lot to say about the budget, many focusing on the asylum plan. SP leader started the debate with the biggest problem facing Europe at this time - the influx of asylum seekers. He wants to know from Prime Minister Rutte what agreements were made in Brussels on Monday and what measures are actually being taken, according to the Volkskrant's live blog on the debate. He was interrupted by PVV Geert Wilders, who wanted to stop the budget debate and turn it into a refugee debate, but this motion was voted down by the vast majority of the Kamer. The SP does see some sensible proposals in the budget - the tax on capital is "a bit more honest", there is more money for childcare and the labor rebate increases. Romer describes this as "good news". But he does not want to "stay on course" as the cabinet puts it. He listed a few things that are wrong in the Netherlands and must be improved. "A strongly growing inequality, more than 400 children live below the poverty line, more and more people are burdened with debt, we have high unemployment, fewer an fewer have a permanent job." According to Roemer, the country is at a crossroads and has to make fundamental choices. The gifts have been distributed, the fut is out. The cabinet is an obstacle in society's way. VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra was the next to speak. According to him the two biggest challenges are unemployment and refugees. The 5 billion tax cut is to help solve the first. D66 Alexander Pechtold thinks that this isn't enough and the coalition should have more ambition in creating jobs. Almost all of the opposition parties lined up behind the interruption microphone to attack Zijlstra on cutbacks in the Ministry of Security and Justice. "What happened to the VVD that you are letting the police and justice down like this?", Roemer sums up the general feeling. According to Zijlstra, a balanced budget is in sight, but it stands against the background of instability and outside threats. This was Wilders' cue to once again demand that the borders be closed by confronting him with the fake Syrian passport for PM Rutte, acquired by journalist Harald Doornbos. Zijlstra said that they are spending more money on security and have presented a plan for care and safety "in the region". If someone is coming form a safe region, he has no right to asylum. But the problem, according to Pechtold, is that four out of five refugees are already "in the region". He wants to know if there will be more money for the region. Zijlstra explains that development money will be used for that. The debate then degenerated into a repetition of the previous discussions on the refugee problem. The VVD once again pointed to their plan of sheltering refugees in safe havens in the region. This should prevent them from trying to make the perilous crossing to Europe. CDA leader Sybrand Buma told Zijlstra to "stop with these empty promises". The debate turned back to closing the borders, with Zijlstra saying that if other countries introduce border controls, you cannot escape it yourself. So embrace our plan, Zijlstra said to Pechtold. Zijlstra's speech turned to the labor market. He wants to bring the rights of flexible and permanent employees more into proportion with each other. Something Pechtold finds wonderful, but wants to know what more will be done. As the VVD leader was closing, GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver with a question about the court ruling that the Netherlands must do more to meet its environmental objectives. Zijlstra responds with a technical argument on environmental policy and further ignores the question.