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Dutch report Dutch report
by Euro Reporter
2009-02-19 09:35:58
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Holland officially in recession

The Dutch economy shrank 0.9% between October and December compared with the previous three months, according to preliminary figures published by the national statistics office CBS on Friday. Because of the revisions of previous quarterly figures, the Dutch economy is now officially in recession.

Year on year, the economy shrank 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2008, the CBS said. It is the first time the economy has shrunk in five years, the CBS said. 'The decline is largely due to a strong fall in exports,' the CBS said. New figures out today on the German economy, the Netherlands biggest export market, show this shrank by 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2008, its third consecutive quarterly fall. Over the whole year, the Dutch economy grew 2% in 2008, around the same level as in 2004 and 2005, the CBS said.

Let’s just hope that it won’t end like Iceland!


Fines for alcohol sales to teens

The government has announced stiffer penalties for supermarkets which sell alcohol to under-age children, reports NOS on Friday. Small supermarkets could face fines of up to €1,800 and will be banned from selling alcohol if caught for a third time. Larger stores will face higher fines.

Nothing wrong with that and other countries should follow the example.


€20bn shortfall

The cabinet is facing a €20bn shortfall and will have to make drastic cuts in spending to avoid pumping up the budget deficit above 2%, sources in The Hague told NOS TV. The bill for unemployment benefit is set to rise by €3bn next year and tax income is well below forecasts, NOS said. Income from natural gas is also down sharply.

The Financieele Dagblad says the new shortfall, coming on top of the €12bn already calculated in, could boost the budget deficit to 5%. Last year there was a surplus of 1%. The official forecasts are due to be presented next Tuesday and will form the basis of the cabinet’s spring talks on spending plans.
Pay freeze. Senior ministers met on Thursday night to discuss measures to boost the economy. They also decided to freeze ministers’ salaries at their current level. A pay rise would send out the wrong signal, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said after the meeting.

Balkenende declined to comment on the new deficit forecast. Commentators say that even if the government decides to let the budget deficit go above the 2% agreed in the coalition accord, ministers will still have to make cuts. The cabinet has set up a committee of senior civil servants to make recommendations. The options include rising the retirement age, reducing mortgage tax relief, cuts to unemployment and child benefit and scrapping tax benefits for non-working parents with young families.

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