SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The third Mark Rutte-led Dutch government will publish its first budget on Tuesday, after the outgoing coalition brought out a holding budget last year.
Much of the economic forecast has already been leaked and most of the substance will have been included in last year’s coalition agreement. Nevertheless, the budget presentation is an opportunity for the government to put its own stamp clearly on policy for 2019 and beyond.
Despite leaked assurances that nearly everyone will have more to spend next year, over three-quarters of the population simply don’t believe it, according to a new poll by current affairs programme EenVandaag.
The drive to boost spending power is one of the government’s key themes but, the survey shows, just 17% of those polled believe that their own spending power will go up in 2019.
‘The increase in value added tax (btw), rising rents, rising energy bills… no pay rise can keep pace with that,’ one respondent told EenVandaag. In particular people on low incomes are concerned – just 6% believe the government’s assurances of having more disposable cash.
The Prinsjesdag rituals – including the king’s speech to open the new parliamentary year – are enshrined in the Dutch constitution and will take place as they always do.
That means king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima will travel to the parliamentary complex in the heart of the The Hague in a horse-drawn coach.
There the king will address the members of the upper and lower houses of parliament, plus the diplomatic corps, and outline the government’s plans for the coming year in the grand setting of the Knights Hall.
Later, finance minister Wopke Hoekstra will brief parliament on the country’s economic prospects. MPs will start their debate on the government’s plans on Wednesday and continue on Friday, rather than Thursday because the prime minister has to attend an EU summit.
In the weeks thereafter, each individual ministry budget will be scrutinised and debated. What has been leaked: 95% of the population will have an average of 1.5% more to spend; People on social security benefits will see a 0.9% increase, the average rise is 1.5%.
The economy will grow by 2.5% in 2019 Unemployment will continue to fall The state debt will dip under 50% of GDP Brexit could cost the Netherlands 1% to 2% of GDP; The budget surplus will hit €10bn, but the structural deficit will drop to 0.4%; More money will be spend on education, defence, security and the infrastructure; The government forecasts a monthly rise of 10% in health insurance premiums.
The 15% tax on dividends will be scrapped, costing an estimated €1.9bn Corporation tax will be lowered from 25% to 22.24%, rather than 21% to pay for the dividend tax cut; Announced earlier and implemented in 2019 The number of tax bands will be reduced to two – almost 37% up to €68,507 and 49.5% for all income above that.
Home owners who have almost or entirely paid off their mortgage will again have to pay tax on the value of their property – more details are expected today The 30% ruling for international workers will be cut from eight to five years.
We will find out today if there will be a transition period after all. The low rate of value-added tax (btw) which applies to food and entertainment will go up from 6% to 9%; The rules for having a company bike will be simplified. Users will have to add 7% of the value of their bike to their income for tax purposes.
What we won’t hear
Broadcaster NOS states that nothing will be said about efforts to reform the pension system, which the government is keen to carry out but which are bogged down in talks between unions and employers.
Nor will there be any comment on the cost of the recent climate agreement because many of the measures needed to phase out the use of natural gas in the Netherlands are still being worked out in talks involving various interest groups.
‘Both the climate and pension are very complicated issues,’ NOS correspondent Xander van der Wulp said. ‘The cabinet does not want to impose its will but hopes the talks will result in something.’ (DutchNews)