Today’s Opinion: Strong message

POSTED: 03/23/11 12:04 PM

The Dutch parliament sent a strong message to money grabbing bankers yesterday by passing a Freedom Party-motion that asks the government to tax all bonuses that have been paid to executives at state-supported banks like ABN, ING, SNS, Reaal and Aegon since 2008 at 100 percent. In other words: the parliament wants those executives to give their bonuses back to the state.

Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager advised against the motion, saying that it is unconstitutional. The Minister foresees endless court battles that the state will all end up losing.

But a majority in the Second Chamber did not care about those objections. The Freedom Party got support from the Labor Party and the Socialist Party.

If it is not possible to tax the bonuses for the full 100 percent, the parliament wants the government to punish the banks by refusing to accept the bonuses as deductable expenses for the corporation tax.

The motion will certainly shake up the banking sector, even though there are strong doubts that a legal basis can be found to put the measure into practice.

The motion highlights the never-ending greed in the banking sector, where lavish bonuses are the order of the day, even after the government had to come to the rescue with massive bailouts.

Finance Minister de Jager is now faced with a mission impossible. He will have to execute the motion, but there is no guarantee that he will manage to pull it off.


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