Today is Prinsjesdag, or Budget Day, in the Netherlands. What’s traditionally a day of ceremony and congregation, was instead scaled-down and televised for coronavirus safety measures.
The event didn’t kick off with the king and queen’s usual carriage entrance and elegant balcony scene. Rather, they pulled up in a black Audi and bee-lined for their thrones, maintaining a proper 1.5-metre distance from other attendees.
The king’s speech
King Willem-Alexander delivered a sombre speech, emphasising that the Netherlands’ economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus and to be prepared for economic setbacks.
The king praises the resilience of business owners and teachers throughout this challenging year. “The Netherlands has shown that it is united, responsible and flexible.”
The Dutch government will be investing in “preserving jobs, good public facilities, a stronger economic structure, and a cleaner country” for the coming year.
The king says it’s thanks to public spending that the country was able to absorb the initial impact of the coronavirus crisis.
In addition to the two current support packages for businesses, the government will be issuing a third package, available from October 1, and continuing for a period of nine months. “The goal is to preserve as many jobs as possible.”
King Willem-Alexander also touched on the issue of discrimination in the Netherlands. “Too often, still, a person’s name or the colour of their skin determines their opportunities in life. That is unacceptable,” says the king.
“The public debate on this issue sometimes causes friction, but it can also help us move forward in the fight against discrimination, racism and unequal treatment. Overcoming differences begins with being prepared to listen to one another.”
Read the full speech in English.
The billion-euro briefcase
As is customary, at 3 pm Minister Wopke Hoekstra handed over the briefcase with the cabinet’s budgetary plans for the coming year. He is optimistic but says that we are going through deep challenges. “We will do everything we can to limit the damage.”
Hoekstra says the cabinet wants to remain stable in these unprecedented times, so it will stick with previously arranged tax cuts and investments. It will also continue to spend money to keep jobs and help businesses.
Hoekstra also emphasises the cabinet’s goal of ensuring the economy is more resilient in the long-term. For this purpose, a National Growth Fund will be set up, which will invest 20 billion euros over the next five years.
What did you think of the king’s speech this year? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image: NPO Radio 1/Video Screenshot