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Top bureaucrats find austerity targets worth 35 billion

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE – Twenty top civil service committees in the Netherlands have identified areas in government spending where the incoming cabinet could pare down its expenses to reduce and eliminate deficits. The recent economic meltdown and subsequent stimulus packages sent deficits skywards. The Balkenende cabinet agreed that the country’s financial situation had to be restored to acceptable levels, and named twenty committees to find areas where pruning could be done after the next election. Since the current cabinet has a caretaker status, it forwarded the twenty reports without comment to the Second Chamber for scrutiny by the various parties. Among the measures proposed is the gradual reduction of the mortgage interest deductibility (saving from 2.5 to 5 billion euro); levy ones residence as part of the wealth tax or vermogenbelasting (saving up to 5 billion); raise the level of one’s own annual health insurance risk to 775 euro (saving 3.8 billion); economize the AWBZ-program benefits (saving 4.4 billion); economize course diversity at the college level, pare down school hours and course load in the school system (saving 2.35 billion); reform employment practices and shorten the entitlement of unemployment benefits, simplify lay-off procedures (saving up to 3.4 billion); sever the ties between social benefits and wages (saving 2 billion); drop minimum wages and welfare by ten percent (saving 1.3 billion); drastically reform the child benefit system (saving 1.8 billion), reorganize police and security and increase fines (saving 2 billion); and phase out provinces and water boards (saving 1.8 billion).