Corona at the centre of reflections: ‘We will have to make difficult choices’

On the second day of the General Political Considerations, Prime Minister Rutte did not want to respond to the reports that pubs in the west of the country are to close at 1 a.m. “We are still discussing this with the security regions,” he said to a concerned House of Representatives. He is giving a press conference on this at 7 p.m. this evening.

The same applies to the reports in Trouw that the Municipal Health Centres do not want a priority scheme for healthcare and education staff.

After the debate, Rutte spoke to political reporter Lars Geerts about this:

In his closing words from the debate on the Prinsjesdagstukken Rutte said that he was inspired by the words of SGP leader Van der Staaij about William of Orange.

“It is attributed to him that one does not have to hope to do anything, nor to succeed in perseverance”, said Rutte. “Those words of this great man, our founder, the father of the fatherland, the man who freed us from Spain, these words have a topical meaning

Rutte referred to the corona crisis and the complicated decisions that the Cabinet has to take. “Incomplete knowledge does not absolve the Cabinet of its responsibility to act,” he said. “In the next phase we will have to make difficult choices and perhaps even tomorrow

Criticism

Even before the latest news came out, the debate was dominated by the corona crisis. Next year‘s budget includes expenditure totalling EUR 337 billion. Of this, no less than EUR 46 billion is earmarked for corona-support measures such as NOW, Tozo and ATV.

The opposition parties have criticised the so-called Wopke-Wiebes Fund. This is a new investment fund of EUR 20 billion for innovative projects that should help the economy in the next few years.

Some parties find it too vague where the money from that fund is going. GroenLinks wants every investment to look at whether future generations will really benefit, and to give young people a say. The Cabinet will come up with more details about the fund in the coming weeks.

Look back at excerpts from the debate here, such as PvdA leader Asscher who spoke of a debate “on the Titanic”:

A large part of the opposition is not in favour of a new tax advantage for investing companies. This ‘Baanger Related Investment Discount‘, referred to in the corridors as BIK, is intended for companies of all sizes that create jobs with their investment.

The parties also find this plan too vague, calling it a “gift” for multinationals and shareholders. Prime Minister Rutte says that it is not, and that it is precisely smaller companies that benefit from it. He has promised that it will be implemented by 5 October.

Effort commitment

A majority of the Chamber, led by the PvdA, wants a guarantee of employment for workers made redundant as a result of the corona crisis. This plan will also be followed up. Rutte is not in favour of a guarantee, but will investigate whether employers can make an effort to help their people find alternative employment.

Once again, the debate was about more pay for care workers. The PVV, GroenLinks and the SP submitted various motions on this subject. The vote will be taken by roll call on Tuesday. Then there will also be a parliamentary debate on the corona crisis.

Non-Western migration background

PVV leader Wilders also had his own agenda items. He argued that there is too much criminality and that the Dutch, in particular, are discriminated against. “We are being colonised by Arabs and Muslims,” he said.

He tabled a motion in which he called the trial against him a political trial. In another motion he stated that rapper Akwasi is not being prosecuted for his aggressive statements because of the arbitrariness of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Wilders did not receive sufficient support for this. However, a majority of the House did vote in favour of a motion by Denk in which the opposite was pronounced, namely “that the Netherlands is not a corrupt country” and that the House “expresses its confidence in the Dutch constitutional state”.

A striking motion by the SGP was also adopted. It states that the crime figures “still show a worrying overrepresentation of people with a non-Western migration background” and that the House wants the government “to recognise this problem, investigate it and develop a targeted approach to reduce crime both among these groups and in its entirety”.

You can read the live blog of day 2 of the General Political Considerations here.