King Willem read out the proposals on Tuesday in The Hague
By Thomas Ansell
Tuesday of this week was Prinsjesdag, the day on which the Dutch King (or Queen) announces the government’s plans for the next year. It’s normally a day full of pomp and circumstance, though significantly less this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. After the King’s speech, the Dutch parliament meets to debate the general budget for the next year, making it a very important day in the countries’ political calendar. The Northern Times has summarised the main announcements below, as reported by the NOS.
Though GDP is forecast to fall by 5 percent this year, the Dutch government thinks that it will rise by about 3.5 percent net year, whilst the CPB (Central Planning Bureau) thinks that joblessness will rise to about 5.9 percent of the working population.
Care workers in the Netherlands will receive a total bonus of 1,500 euros to thank them for their ongoing work during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus has also resulted in a likely extra 6.7 billion euros in care costs- and the healthcare budget next year will be about 90 billion euros (about 10 percent of GDP).
The regional GGD care organisations will receive an extra 350 million euros in funding, which is intended mainly to be used for contact-research for Coronavirus sufferers.
A new CO2-levy was announced to encourage Dutch companies to comply with the Climate Accord, but its introduction has been delayed a little due to disruptions from the Coronavirus pandemic. The Minister of Finance only expects it to really kick in from 2024.
The education budget will get a 244 million euro boost to help students ‘learning deficit’ caused by the school shut-down, whilst 32 million will be dedicated to improving a teacher shortage in Dutch schools. Various educational unions have spoken out about this decision, saying that the amount pledged is unlikely to help the issue in a meaningful way.
Social housing rents will be lowered on properties judged to be ‘proportionally’ to high-priced. This will mean that about 260,000 tenants will save about 40 euros each per month. The Dutch cabinet is also fiddling with its help to buy policy- removing ‘overdraft taxes’ for people under 35 buying a house.
In the wake of a number of unpleasant revelations about organised crime in the Netherlands, another 141 million euros will go to fighting organised crime. 40 million euros is being put forward to help clear the Coronavirus-related backlog of court cases in the country.
Public transport will receive more funding to help with the drop in passenger numbers due to the Coronavirus pandemic, whilst over 2 billion euros was pledged for infrastructure projects in general.
‘Golden Coach’ controversy
Whilst there wasn’t as much ceremony this year, one problematic symbol of Prinsjesdag is to be consigned to a museum. The ‘Gouden Koets’ (a golden horse-drawn carriage) that usually carries the Royal Family features artwork showing black Dutch colonial subjects prostrating to a featureless monarch in a panel known as the ‘tribute to the colonies’. It’s currently being restored and will later go to the Amsterdam Museum (it’s not clear if it will be used in next year’s Prinsjesdag), per the NOS.