Prinsjesdag overview: the budget for 2015
On the third Tuesday of September, King Willem-Alexander gave a speech outlining the budget for 2015 in the Great Hall of the Binnenhof in The Hague. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Prinsjesdag tradition.
Budget as expected
The budget itself was not a great surprise, as many changes had already been leaked to Dutch media in the weeks leading up to Prinsjesdag.
Following the king's speech, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Minister of Finance, presented the budget to the House of Representatives. He described it as a prudent budget, designed to encourage growth and tackle unemployment while the country slowly recovers from the economic crisis.
For 2015, the Dutch government anticipates economic growth of 1,25 per cent and a reduction in the budget deficit to 2,2 per cent of gross domestic product, a figure well below the three per cent Eurozone limit, and low enough to avoid tax increases.
Here is an overview of the main points for the 2015 budget:
› A reduction of one billion euros on the tax burden on labour.
› A special ambassador will assist small and medium businesses (MKB’s) to start, grow and innovate in 2015.
› A Future Fund (Toekomstfonds) will be established, with an initial capital of 200 million euros, to stimulate innovation, research and growth in small and medium businesses.
› A maximum of 2,5 billion euros in investment funding will be made available to help small and medium businesses grow.
› The government will make 35 million euros available for nature initiatives and business activities.
› International trade missions are planned to develop new markets and outlets for agricultural and horticultural products in response to the Russian boycott.
Healthcare and benefits
› The premium for Dutch health insurance will increase as expected to 1.211 euros per year, or just under 10 euros a month.
› The compulsory excess, or eigen risico will increase from 360 to 375 euros per year.
› The healthcare benefit (zorgtoeslag) for very low income households will go up.
› Municipalities (gemeenten) will become responsible for all youth support and long-term elderly and disabled home care. District nursing will now be covered by basic health insurance.
› Parents who become unemployed will continue to receive childcare benefits for six months instead of three.
› More temporary rental contracts will be made available to free up the market and allow starting tenants a better chance of obtaining a home.
› The rental points system will be updated. The WOZ value of a property will have more impact on its rental price, and whether it falls under the controlled or private rental sectors.
› The lower VAT (BTW) tax rate of six per cent for labour costs on renovations will be extended by six months until July 1, 2015.
› The limit for the National Mortgage Guarantee (NHG) will go down to 245.000 euros and will drop further to 225.000 in 2016.
› People who have an outstanding debt after selling their home may be able to obtain financing under the NHG. Until 2018, the interest incurred on remaining debt can be deducted from income tax for 15 years (extended from 10 years).
Education and culture
› After years of stagnation, teacher’s salaries will follow market wages.
› On September 1, 2015 the new loan system for tertiary students will be introduced.
› The Dutch film industry will receive 20 million euros annually to increase production and international competitiveness.
Infrastructure and the environment
› The government will invest 20 billion euros over the next 30 years in measures to protect the country against flooding, and ensure access to fresh water.
› The Ministry of the Environment will further focus on the implementation of the Climate Agenda (Klimaatagenda) and the SER Energy Agreement to ensure that the nation is prepared for climate change by 2050.
› Lelystad airport will be expanded.
Defence, security and foreign policy
› In light of growing global tensions, the defence budget will receive 100 million euros extra per year until 2018.
› The police and public prosecution system will gain more powers to detect cybercrime.
› An additional 570 million euros will be given to international emergency aid.
› Pressure from the reception of large number of asylum seekers remains high. The government is allocating an additional 375 million euros to the first-year reception of assylum seelers.
› An extra 160 million euros has been reserved for the child budget to support families' purchasing power.
› In 2015 the government will propose a city agenda to strengthen liveability and competitiveness of Dutch cities.
› For the long term the government is working on reforming and simplifying the tax system with the aim of boosting employment.
› King Willem Alexander’s annual salary will increase by 6.000 euros to 823.000 and Queen Maxima will receive a pay rise of 2.000 euros.
› Paleis Huis ten Bosch, a royal residence in The Hague, will receive a 35 million euro renovation.
Sources: De Volkskrant, Trouw
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