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Dutch Govt Resigns Over Childcare Benefits Scandal

by on January 15, 2021
 

By Onwuka Gerald

The Dutch government on Friday, resigned two months before elections over a child benefits scandal in which thousands of families were wrongly blamed for defrauding the state.

Netherlands Prime minister, Mark Rutte on Friday, announced that his four-party coalition would be stepping down after an an emergency meeting between cabinet members was held on Friday.

The decision to step down was expected, right after the government came under severe scrutiny to assume responsibility for a child benefits scandal in which thousands of Dutch families were wrongly accused of defrauding the state, and were forced to repay money owed to them as their their benefits was also stopped.

Prime Minister Rutte’s cabinet resignation came few months to Netherland’s National elections; the decision means the country will now have a caretaker government in Mr Rutte.

After the cabinet meeting on Friday, Mr Rutte said at a press conference that, “The rule of law must protect the citizens against an almighty government and that has made an horrendous mistake”. The Prime Minister criticised mistakes throughout the police, administrative and legal system”.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary report in December, 2020, showed findings on how government tax officials hunted down thousands of parents who were wrongly accused of defrauding the child welfare system for the past seven years.

The tax ministry was similarly accused of racial profiling, after it was found that officials targeted families who possessed dual nationality.

The Ministry last year apologised for the mistakes and initiated a €500m compensation fund to about 10,000 families who lost payments, often for minor administrative errors such as missing signatures on forms.

Also, Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra, tax minister Eric Weibes and medical affairs minister Tamara van Ark are also the subject of a court probe from 20 families who have already initiated legal proceedings against the government.

Tax Minister Weibes on Friday, announced he would not return to serve in the caretaker government.

Jesse Klaver, leader of the Dutch Green party, said the resignation was a moment of justice and should mark a turning point so they can start rebuilding the state again.

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