Prime minister under fire again over royal finances

Arcadis chief executive steps down suddenly after disappointing results

Prime minister Mark Rutte will be called to account by parliament today in a debate on royal family spending, RTL Nieuws said. Rutte said on Wednesday there is no evidence that the king and queen are benefiting from extra allowances to offset the impact of the introduction of a tax on their assets in the 1970s. However, RTL says it has the documentation to prove the extra payments, which total millions of euros over the years. 'Rutte has a lot to explain,' RTL correspondent Frits Wester said. Rutte will also come under fire about the cabinet's plans to give princess Amalia and allowance of over €250,000 plus €1.2m to pay for staff when she turns 18. MPs from across the political spectrum, including Rutte's VVD, consider this to be too much. However, reducing this amount will require a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, broadcaster NOS said. Pay Currently, members of the royal family receive a tax-free salary and are not required to pay gift or inheritance tax. A year ago, prime minister Mark Rutte defended the royals’ tax free status, arguing that ‘a deal is a deal’. Much of their money is in foundations, which do not pay tax. The taxpayer also picks up the bill for security, rebuilding palaces and the former queen’s yacht De Groene Draeck. The Dutch royal family is considered to be one of the most expensive in Europe, and costs the taxpayer some €40m a year, excluding security.  More >

Dutch eat one billion fair trade bananas

Arcadis chief executive steps down suddenly after disappointing results The Dutch have eaten one billion fair trade bananas since they were introduced in the Netherlands 20 years ago, the Max Havelaar foundation said on Thursday. The sale of fair trade bananas in the Netherlands has generated €12.7m in extra income for cooperative banana plantations, the foundation said. This money has been spend on irrigation systems, schooling, housing and healthcare. The Max Havelaar foundation was set up in 1988 to focus on Mexican coffee farmers and now offers bananas, chocolate, tea and dozens of other products. Hundreds of supermarkets, cafés and other businesses are taking part in Fair Trade Week which runs from October 27.   More >

Arcadis CEO steps down after poor results

Arcadis chief executive steps down suddenly after disappointing results A slew of disappointing results has cost the chief executive of Dutch civil engineering group Arcadis his job, the Financieele Dagblad said on Thursday. Neil McArthur, who was appointed in 2012, is stepping down ‘by mutual consent’ after 'a difference of opinion on Arcadis' path moving forward', the company said in a statement. His resignation comes as Arcadis said in a trading update its third-quarter turnover was down 7% at €596m and that operating profit had shrunk 33% over the same period. McArthur was appointed to a new four year term 18 months ago. Analysts said the company had put in a ‘weak performance’ with a downward trend in almost all sectors in which it operates. McArthur will be replaced as interim by financial chief Renier Vree. The search is now on for a new CEO to take the company forward, Arcadis said in the statement. Arcadis shares were down 12% in early trading in Amsterdam.  More >

Tougher approach needed for road hogs

Arcadis chief executive steps down suddenly after disappointing results The police must become more visible while patrolling the country's road network and crack down harder on road hogs and drunk drivers, a senior justice ministry official said on Thursday. Achilles Damen, who is in charge of road offences at the public prosecution department, told the Telegraaf  drink drivers in particular get off lightly in the current set-up. 'The chance of being caught must be increased,' he told the paper. 'The police must show more authority and confront people with their behaviour.' Damen believes direct confrontation has more of an effect on people than a fine. 'If you are caught speeding, you get a fine in the post two weeks later and you don't even remember that you were driving too fast,' he said. Last year, 621 people were killed on the Dutch roads, compared with 570 in 2014.  More >

MPs debate right to die proposals

Arcadis chief executive steps down suddenly after disappointing results MPs on Wednesday held their first debate on the government’s plans to legalise assisted suicide for elderly people who consider their lives to be complete. The proposal follows years of discussion in parliament and in society at large about the right of people who consider their lives have reached the end to die peacefully. Outlining the plans earlier this month, health minister Edith Schippers and justice minister Ard van de Steur said people who feel their ‘life has been completed’ should get the legal right to die with the help of a specialist care worker. ‘Elderly’ people with a consistent and well-considered wish to die – whether ill or not – should be able to take a drug to end their lives, the ministers said. Opposition The cabinet plans go against recommendations made by an independent committee of experts who said earlier this year that euthanasia for people who consider their lives to be completed should not be allowed in law. Schippers said during Wednesday’s debate that she wanted wide ranging talks with interest groups before establishing if there should be an age limit. The government’s plan, which will take years to become law, is supported by the opposition Liberal democratic party D66 but opposed by all three Christian parties as well as the Socialists and anti-Islam PVV. Independence Meanwhile, 85-year-old pensioner Hanny van der Velde told broadcaster NOS that she considers the proposal to be ‘terrible’, because it still involves a third party. ‘I want real independence,’ she said. ‘Politicians are deciding about old people, when they are not old themselves,’ she said. ‘What do they know?’ Good quality care Nienke Nieuwenhuizen, chairwoman of the geriatric medicine association Verenso, is also highly criticial of the plans. ‘How can we draw up criteria for a ‘completed life’ when we can’t even ensure good quality care?’ she told the broadcaster. ‘Every day I speak to elderly people who ask me what reason there is to go on living. They constantly hear they are expensive and a costly burden. What sort of message are we sending out?’  More >