Justice Min. under fire yet again; penny-pinching budget criticised

Ard van der Steur (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)Ard van der Steur (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice is on the defensive again, this time about his Ministry's budget. Opposition parties wants more money to go to the judiciary this year and in parliament the Minister received harsh criticism on his policy, but he is adamant that no extra money is needed.

On Monday it was announced that the government will push 300 million euros extra into Security and Justice next year. But opposition parties feel that this is not soon enough. They want extra money for the ministry immediately, to address shortages and prevent officers from being dismissed, according to broadcaster NOS.

According to Van der Steur (VVD), there are currently no holes that need urgent filling, there is no threat of redundancies and no extra money is needed right away. "We can do it with the budget as it stands." he said.

The parties also demanded that Van der Steur officially distances himself from statements by Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem (PvdA) that he is annoyed by the constant call for more money for the police, prosecution and judiciary.

In the spring memorandum for the Security and Justice budget, Dijsselbloem said he'll make 49 million euros extra available for the ministry. No more. The opposition parties are demanding between 150 million and 200 million euros extra. "It's not a 'you call and we jump' situation. I'm a little bit done with this. And I'll leave tit there or I'll say much uglier things", Dijsselbloem said, according to NU.nl.

According to the opposition parties in parliament, Dijsselbloem is making the police and judiciary look like "beggars" while the demand for extra money is right and needed. The parties demanded Van der Steur to stand up and distance himself from Dijsselbloem's statements.

The Justice Minister stated that Dijsselbloem's words are his own personal opinion, and not a government policy. He added that he understands the concerns and agrees that his ministry needs more money. But he again emphasized that there is enough money for 2016.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold disagrees with this. "The Public Prosecutor is 17 million short and the judiciary 15 million. It seems we live in a different reality." he said, according to NOS. PVV leader Geert Wilders thinks that the Ministry is getting "a big middle finger" from the government and calls Van der Steur "totally unfit for his position". The CDA and ChristenUnie expressed similar sentiments.

In the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, the government can get a majority with just the coalition parties of VVD and PvdA. But they do need support from opposition parties to get the Ministry of Security and Justice's 2017 budget through the Eerste Kamer (Senate).

On Tuesday State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice announced that no more prisons or juvenile detention centers will be closing, for the rest of this government's term at least. The extra money the government made available for next year will be enough to keep them open.