Prime Minister Rutte speaking on ‘corona budget’, infections and the rule of law

After a special Budget Day, the Cabinet can count on the approval of the Lower House of Parliament for the vast majority of next year‘s budget. This became apparent during the General Political Considerations.

Yesterday, the group chairmen spent the whole day debating a historic budget that is dominated by the corona crisis. Most parties are very concerned about employment, the housing shortage, and the space – or lack of it – that business still has to invest.

Nevertheless, the economy can grow by 3.5% and the purchasing power of groups of people is increasing. However, these figures are more uncertain than ever and the differences in people’s expectations depending on their situation are greater than ever.

EUR 337 billion

Prime Minister Rutte will address these key issues from 10.45 a.m. this morning. The government will spend almost EUR 337 billion next year. Of this, EUR 46 billion is earmarked for the corona support, and the government expects EUR 16.6 billion less tax to come in through deferrals related to the corona crisis.

All the political parties know that this budget does not provide much in the way of elongation. This may make the opposition‘s wish lists a little shorter and ‘cheaper‘ this year. The left-wing opposition parties GroenLinks, SP and PvdA want to invest an extra EUR 9.4 billion in, among other things, lower rents, lower care premiums and extra coronation support for freelancers.

But the parties in government have not yet joined forces to do so. After all, the left-wing opposition wants to take some of the money away from the business community, and that met with resistance from the VVD. Mr Dijkhoff, chairman of the group, said: Are the entrepreneurs not having a hard time now? They are just hard-working people. The VVD believes that it is precisely when companies have to bear more burdens that it can cost jobs.

Working guarantee

The coalition is also displeased by the employment guarantee advocated by PvdA leader Asscher for people who are going to be made redundant. That is too big a task for those companies, said CDA group chairman Heerma. Asscher admitted that this will demand a lot from companies, but he believes that they have that responsibility. He threatens not to support the budget if the cabinet does nothing with his plan.

The government parties have found a solution outside the budget for 2021 to the desire to do more about care salaries. A committee is going to investigate what is to be done with the salaries. That is not a noncommittal committee’, assured party leader Segers of the Christian Union the opposition. EUR 2 billion will be set aside for the bonuses already agreed.

Here are some excerpts from the debate:

The debate has shown that the corona crisis is far from being averted. Belgium and Germany announced that North and South Holland will be given ‘code red’, which will make travel and transport to neighbouring countries even more difficult. And the cabinet appears to be thinking behind the scenes about extra measures in these provinces and the big cities, because the number of infections is getting out of hand.

Concerns about the lack of testing capacity have already been voiced by the House. But Prime Minister Rutte will have to explain this today. A second wave must be prevented at all costs, said SP leader Marijnissen.

Corrupt country

Another subject to which Rutte will have to respond is the statements of PVV leader Wilders. He kicked off the debate yesterday, and started the trial against him about his ‘less less’ statement. He said that Rutte is Prime Minister of a corrupt country’, where justice is ‘arbitrary’.

Wilders was convicted in the trial for group insults against Moroccans. In the debate, he said: ‘No one insults the group of Moroccans more than Moroccans themselves’ Various group chairmen did not agree with Wilders‘s statements. During the trial, Wilders had every opportunity to tell his side of the story, how corrupt? said group chairmen Jetten (D66) and Dijkhoff (VVD).

All group chairmen except party leader Baudet of Forum for Democracy abstained further from statements on the content of the trial. The SGP did, however, propose to amend the law on group insults.

So today’s debate begins with Prime Minister Rutte. After that, all the group chairmen will be able to speak again and table motions to try to adapt the Cabinet policy a little.

Day 2 of the General Political Considerations is partly broadcast on NPO 1 and in its entirety on nos.nl and NPO Politiek.

The live blog of day 1 of the General Political Considerations with summaries of all positions can be read here.