Coalition accused of delaying inflation support by rejecting opposition proposals
The opposition called on coalition parties to not dismiss all their amendments and proposals automatically during the debate on the 2023 Budget. In the past year, various opposition parties submitted nearly a hundred amendment proposals, almost all of which were voted down by the four coalition parties. Many of those proposals dealt with improvements in purchasing power. On Budget Day, the Cabinet presented an 18 billion euros package to support citizens’ purchasing power.
Netherlands residents could have been helped much sooner if the opposition's proposals had been looked at earlier and more seriously, is the wisely shared criticism of the opposition parties. “Amendments by 73 opposition MPs have been consistently and massively rejected,” said Pieter Omtzigt in the parliamentary debate on the Cabinet’s budget plans for 2023. “Counterproposals are not seriously listened to.”
When the Rutte III Cabinet was resigned, amendments were voted down because there was no “official coalition,” Omtzigt recalled. Since Rutte IV took office in January, the VVD, D66, CDA, and ChristenUnie have continued in the same way, he said. He hopes the coalition will seriously look at opposition amendments this year and not just reject all counter-proposals out of hand again.
This is not the first time the opposition has denounced the coalition’s stance. Roughly speaking, the four coalition parties support all of the Cabinet’s proposals, and the Cabinet and coalition make far-reaching agreements on purchasing power in back rooms, such as happened with the almost 18 billion euros package of purchasing power measures.
VVD faction leader Sophie Hermans rejected the criticism. “We look at all proposals seriously and weigh them seriously.
Several parties also attacked the VVD on the government’s plans for middle-income households and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). According to JA21 and the BBB, among others, the support package against inflation and high energy bills is insufficient for those groups, and entrepreneurs still don’t know what to expect.
BBB leader Caroline van der Plas said the VVD did too little for entrepreneurs and wondered how long the party would still be seen as an “entrepreneurial party.” “We are inundated with emails from entrepreneurs saying: this is the end of the line for us. How much do SMEs still matter to the VVD?” Joost Eerdmans of JA21 wondered the same. “SMEs don’t easily give up, and yet entrepreneurs are worried.’ According to Eerdmans, the reduction in income tax that middle incomes receive is a “pittance.”
Van der Plas believes that “all Dutch people” should get purchasing power help. According to her, it is a matter of will. “Within a week, we manage to free up 150 million euros for the painting De Vaandeldrager by Rembrandt. Fine, it is of great historical and cultural importance. But then it was suddenly possible.”
VVD faction leader Hermans also said she would like to know quickly from the Cabinet where SMEs stand. “The arrangement that is now in place is still too vague.” She said she is pushing for clarity. Earlier, Minister Micky Adriaanses (Economic Affairs) and Rob Jetten (Climate and Energy) said they would provide more clarity on support for SMEs in November. Adriaanses told Nieuwsuur that she wants to support energy-intensive SMEs, but they shouldn’t expect “unbridled” support like in the coronavirus crisis.
For “too long,” Hermans has read arguments why compensation is not sensible, for example, because it disrupts the market or takes away incentives to become more sustainable. “That is logic I can understand well from the theory books, but not logic that matches people’s problems at home.” Hermans believes politics should be based more on the latter form of logic.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times