Sunday , July 3 2022

As leaky as a sieve: what we know about the 2014 budget so far

With a string of leaks over the past few weeks and this weekend’s RTL scoop covering key macro-economic figures, much of the government’s 2014 spending plans are already out in the open.
The plans will be formally presented to parliament on Tuesday after king Willem-Alexander has made his first speech from the throne, outlining the government’s strategy for the coming year.
Here is a round-up of what we know so far:

Macro-economic figures
The unemployment rate will rise to 9.25%.
The budget deficit will reach 3.3% next year, above Brussels’ limits.
Spending power will go down by 0.5% on average. Single people with jobs and pensioners will be hit hardest, with some pensioners losing up to 5%.
Inflation will fall from 2.75% to 2% next year.
The economy will grow 0.5% next year. The impact of the extra €6bn austerity package on growth is 0.25%.

Taxes and premiums
Classic cars will no longer be exempt from road tax.
The tax on diesel will rise by three cents and on lpg by seven cents.
Taxes on beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks will rise.
People who have put their redundancy package in a special trust fund will get a tax break if they take out the money now. The fund option will be stopped next year.
The three income tax bands will not rise in line with inflation.
People earning over €56,000 will lose their €2,000 basic tax break, which will be cut in stages.
The temporary cut in value-added tax on housing and garden work will end on March 1, 2014.
Wages and benefits

Civil service salaries will be frozen in 2014.
Child benefit for older children will be cut by €330 a year in stages.
Housing, healthcare and extra child-related benefits will be reformed and replaced with a single household benefit.
The state pension will go down by about €25 a month as some tax breaks for pensioners are reduced or scrapped.
Companies will be liable for higher premiums for unemployment and incapacity benefit.
Employers will pay lower health insurance contributions for staff – from 7.75% to 7.5%.
People on minimum incomes will get a €100 extra payout next year.
Other measures

Spending on development aid will be cut by a further €250m as a ‘temporary measure’.
The own-risk element in healthcare will remain €350.
People will be able to give a tax free sum of up to €100,000 to their children to buy or rebuild a house.
Government ministries will have less to spend. The defence ministry budget is expected to be slashed by an extra €330m, on top of this year’s €1bn cut.
Compiled from Nos, RTL, Financieele Dagblad and ANP

Unions
The FNV trade union federation said the leaked figures show new cuts will be ‘disastrous for the country’. The union is already planning a nationwide campaign against further austerity measures.
The CNV union federation said an unemployment rate nearing 10% is unacceptable. ‘I would call on everyone, politicians, unions, employers and potential investors to do their bit to turn the tide,’ chairman Jaap Smit said in a statement.

Opposition MPs were also highly critical. Geert Wilders of the anti-immigration PVV called on prime minister Mark Rutte to resign.

Optimistic
Socialist party leader Emile Roemer said the figures show the failure of cabinet policy. ‘Rutte must either change policy or resign,’ he said.
Economist Bas Jacobs of Erasmus University told the Volkskrant he feels the CPB may have been too optimistic.
‘The CPB has consistently over-estimated economic growth and I expect the forecasts for growth, spending power, investments and unemployment are also too optimistic, he told Nos television.

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