Fight against Covid will continue, even if Cabinet falls: Health Minister
The fight against the coronavirus pandemic will continue undiminished and without a pause, even if the Dutch government collapses, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health said to NOS before the start of a Council of Ministers meeting in which the Cabinet will decide whether or not it will step down due to the childcare allowance affair.
If the Cabinet steps down, it becomes an "outgoing cabinet". This means that it will continue to manage the current affairs until a new cabinet is installed. And the most current affair is the pandemic. Nothing will change in the management processes around the coronavirus, De Jonge stressed - even if the Cabinet collapses, it will continue to make decisions on testing, vaccinations, measures in place to curb the spread of the virus, and the like.
All the Ministers held their cards close to the chest as they entered the meeting at the Ministry of General Affairs in The Hague. None of them would comment on whether the cabinet would be stepping down or not. Though many did say that the most important thing is to help the parents victimized in this scandal.
Thousands of parents ended up in serious financial trouble when the Tax Authority wrongly labeled them as fraudsters and ordered them to pay back the childcare allowance they received, sometimes amounting to tens of thousands of euros. The Tax Authority used ethnic profiling in its witch hunt, with dual-nationality being one of the criteria with which potential fraudsters were selected. A parliamentary committee of inquiry ruled that these parents faced "unprecedented injustice" and that government members in both the Rutte II and Rutte III cabinets were partly responsible for this.
The Ministers will first focus on the unprecedented suffering caused to these parents, VVD Minister Tamara van Ark said to NOS ahead of the Council of Ministers meeting. Justice must be done for these people, and that is more important than whether or not the Cabinet will fall, she said. "It's a very tough issue. And it will first be discussed in terms of content before it comes to the political consequences."
D66 Ministers Sigrid Kaag and Kasja Ollongren, and ChristenUnie Minister Carola Schouten said much the same.