Outgoing Dutch premier asks for budget cut approval | News | DW | 24.04.2012
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Outgoing Dutch premier asks for budget cut approval

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who previously submitted his resignation, has implored parliament to approve a new austerity budget, saying cuts are "necessary to pull the Netherlands through these difficult economic times."

Mark Rutte appealed to lawmakers in the Hague on Tuesday to push through his proposed austerity budget for 2013, as the Netherlands seeks to reduce a projected deficit of 4.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in that year.

The appeal came less than 24 hours after Rutte submitted his resignation as prime minister, after losing the support of the government coalition's unofficial far-right backers from Geert Wilders' Freedom Party.

"I stand here in the hope that parties in this chamber are prepared … to work with the cabinet to do what is necessary to pull the Netherlands through these difficult economic times in a responsible way," Rutte said in his first address to parliament since stepping down and being asked to stay on as caretaker prime minister.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives for a debate in the Dutch parliament about the government's resignation caused by a crisis over budget cuts

Rutte heads the liberal VVD party

"The problems are serious, the economy is stalling, employment is under pressure and government debt is growing faster than the Netherlands can afford," he said.

The Netherlands is one of the relatively few remaining eurozone members with a top-notch AAA credit rating; its total national debt is also below 70 percent of annual economic output, considered comparatively healthy.

What's good for Henk and Ingrid

The country is currently predicted to run a 2013 deficit of 4.6 percent of GDP, and Rutte's outgoing cabinet was seeking ways to trim that down to the EU limit of 3 percent. Ratings agencies have said they are monitoring the situation in the Netherlands after the fall of the government, calling it "a credit-negative" but also saying that the country remained in "a position of relative strength."

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Netherlands heading for fresh elections

Disagreements over the cost-cutting plans helped lead to the collapse of Rutte's government, after the euroskeptic Freedom Party said it was no longer prepared to face imposed austerity measures from Brussels.

"It is the government, not the citizen, not Henk and Ingrid, who spent too much. Either we choose to act in the interests of Henk and Ingrid or we act in the interests of Brussels," party leader Geert Wilders said.

msh/ncy (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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