Cabinet drops dividend tax plan, €1.9bn saved to go to industry

The cabinet has dropped its controversial plan to scrap the tax on dividends which would mostly benefit foreign multinationals, prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Monday afternoon. Speaking after a meeting between the four coalition parties, Rutte said the €1.9bn which would be ‘saved’ due to the decision would go to companies. More will become public later on Monday when tax minister Menno Snel briefs MPs, he said. 'The new package will score better in terms of support,' Rutte said. The prime minister did not mention the 30% ruling tax break for certain categories of international workers which is also being looked at again. Campaigners are hoping that ministers will agree to a transition period for current claimants. However, sources in The Hague told RTL that three proposals are on the table where the money could be spent. These include a further cut in corporation taxes and maintenance of the 30% ruling. Calls by opposition parties to spend the money on healthcare and education were not possible, Rutte said. All companies, including small firms, will benefit from the change of heart, the prime minister said.  More >

'Banks rely on one cyber security firm'

The three biggest Dutch banks are too dependent on a single US cyber security company to protect them against DDoS attacks, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Monday. The paper quotes a report by the government's macro-economic think-tank CPB which says in a new report on cyber crime that giving one player such a strong position is 'worrisome'. 'You can ask whether such a large market concentration is desirable from the point of view of society,' the CPB said. It points out that if the company - Akamai - should itself collapse or be hacked, that the Dutch banking sector could be crippled as well. The CPB says 16 of the world's biggest banks use Akamai, and  that ABN Amro, Rabobank and ING are also all users. However, the banks told the paper that they are not running risks using the US company. 'We use other providers as well as Akamai,' an ING spokesman said. 'And we have our own systems for detecting attacks and fending them off.' ABN Amro and ING both said they use other forms of protection as well. Aiko Pras, a professor in cyber security at Twente University told the paper there are risks in becoming dependent on non-EU providers. 'American companies like Akamai are getting to know our payment traffic systems better and better, while we are losing the expertise,' he said. 'A cyber war is closer than we think.'  More >

'30% ruling plans violate Dutch law'

The government's decision not to include a transition period for current 30% ruling beneficiaries when it slashes the time limit from eight to five years contravenes Dutch law, according to an expert legal opinion prepared for the lobby group fighting the change. The United Expats in the Netherlands group commissioned law firm Stibbe to look into the issue and its lawyers conclude that the plan contravenes principles of legal certainty, predictability and proportionality. In addition, the report says, the lack of a transition period is in 'direct conflict' with tax minister Menno Snel's own policy on transitional agreements, and with principles of due diligence and justification. This means, the law firm says, the proposal is unlikely to survive 'judicial scrutiny' if it becomes the law. In particular, the report criticises the fact that the government has not researched the likely impact on the 11,000 people who will lose the tax break before they expected too, but dismisses them as 'a limited number'. Committee The UNEL has now sent the report to the parliamentary finance committee which is currently re-examining two aspects of government tax policy - the 30% ruling cuts and the decision to scrap the tax on dividends. 'It is shocking that despite the negative advice from the Council of State that the current proposal does not respect the existing term limits for current recipients of the 30% tax ruling,' UNEL spokeswoman Jessica Taylor Piotrowski said. 'This legal document shows that the budget proposal violates Dutch law and is ground for further legal action.' Changes Sources in The Hague have told the Telegraaf that there are signs the government will water down its planned changes to the 30% ruling for international workers. The Telegraaf says the planned cut from eight to five years may not be as severe as the government planned, and the five-year limit may be made longer. Other sources have told that that the government may introduce a one year transition period to temper the switch for current beneficiaries who will lose hundreds of euros a month from January 1. The finance ministry has declined to comment on the claims while the talks are ongoing.  More >

Schools facing supply teacher shortage

Schools are struggling with a shortage of supply teachers because replacement staff are being offered permanent contracts. A survey of seven regional agencies that provide teachers to stand in when regular staff are off sick or to cover a vacancy found they are having to refuse requests earlier in the school year than ever before. 'We had to turn down a request from a school in the first week of the year, which has never happened before,' an administrator in Zeeland told NOS. On average supply teacher agencies have lost a third of their personnel during the last school year, often as a result of schools offering permanent jobs to teachers who have stood in for a member of staff. 'The continuity of education is in doubt because of this,' said Joost Spijker, director of RTC Transvita, which supplies teaching cover to schools in Utrecht, Gelderland, Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland and saw 200 of its 500 teachers leave last year. 'Some schools don't even ask us any more because they know there's only a very small chance that we can provide a replacement.' Education minister Arie Slob pledged last week to invest an extra €21 million in addressing teacher shortages, partly by increasing opportunities for people in other professions to retrain.  More >

A couple more summer days ahead

The warm weather is set to remain in the Netherlands for a couple more days as the tail end of tropical hurricanes Leslie and Michael move over the Mediterranean Sea, rather than northwards as thought earlier. After a weekend in which several weather records were broken - including the warmest ever October 12 and 13 - the temperatures will reach up to 25 degrees on both Monday and Tuesday, weather forecasters said. Wednesday and Thursday are likely to be a little cooler, with temperatures in the high teens and there maybe some showers. Friday and next weekend will be dry and sunny, but with temperatures around 15 degrees, which is normal for the time of year, the KNMI said.   More >

The Hague stabber had extremist motive

Statue of justice. The man who stabbed three people in The Hague before being shot by police had an extremist motive for the attack, the public prosecution department said in court on Monday. However, there is no evidence that Malek F was linked to a terrorist organisation when he attacked the three people in May, while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, prosecutors said at F's second remand hearing. The department says the 31-year-old, who has had a history of disturbed mental health since he arrived in the Netherlands as a Palestinian refugee from Syria, should be remanded in custody while the investigation continues. F, who wrote Facebook posts saying that ‘unbelievers should go to hell’ has had several spells in psychiatric care. His family said earlier this year they intend to file a complaint against healthcare institution Parnassia for failing to act on earlier signs that he was in poor mental health.  More >

ProRail warns about railway vibrations

New homes built close to railway tracks should be better protected against the vibrations caused by train traffic, given that it will grow in the future,' according to railway infrastructure company ProRail. ProRail says it has sent over 100 letters to local authorities since 2015 warning them about the problem but with mixed results. In Delft, for example, agreements were reached about housing on the new railway tunnel but in one case, ProRail has threatened to go to court, the company said. The state-owned company says local authorities and developers should be aware of the problem. 'We are making mention of this now because we will be blamed in the future if cups start rattling on tables and cracks appear in walls,' chief executive Pier Eringa told Radio 1. Pressure on the railways is increasing and dozens of housing developments have been planned close to tracks, he pointed out. In Zuid-Holland alone, 75,000 homes have been planned close to railways, Eringa told the broadcaster. ProRail is also taking steps to alleviate the problems by, for example, placing rubber mats in track foundations to absorb the vibrations.  However, the simplest solution would be not to build too close to railway tracks, he said.  More >