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Unprecedented Injustice
The childcare benefit fraud approach violated fundamental principles of the rule of law. A mistake in an application was soon seen as fraud, so that parents were falsely branded as deliberate fraudsters in the execution. This accusation not only affects implementation - specifically the Tax and Customs Administration / Benefits - but also the legislator and the judiciary. The legislation could have been amended at any time by the mandating Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, if the need had been felt. However, this has not happened. The implementer - the Ministry of Finance - has implemented the childcare allowance as a mass process. The group approach, the 'all-or-nothing' approach and the way in which 'intent / gross negligence' was used have grossly infringed the rule of law principle that justice must be done to individual situations of people. What has happened to many parents, the Parliamentary Interrogation Committee Childcare Allowance sees as unprecedented injustice. Solving the problems that parents have encountered at the hands of the government was by no means seen as necessary and has been pushed forward time and again. All kinds of explanations can be given for this, such as an existing practice in implementation that stood up to court, responsibilities that are spread over several ministries, the orientation towards policy and politics instead of implementation and the fear of financial, legal or publicity consequences. However, according to the committee, these statements should never be an excuse.
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The Netherlands as a Leader in Circular Agriculture
Farming, horticulture and fisheries are essential sectors. Farmers, growers and fishermen feed the people. How this is done – globally – today, is not sustainable. Our planet can no longer sustain the burden of the current production methods and consumer behaviour. Our current system of agriculture is a supply chain, consisting of actors who each aim to gain the greatest economic bene t. Each party uses the raw materials at its disposal and processes these at the lowest costs and with the highest yield. However, individual parties still insufficiently consider the system as a whole. Regulation is also still mostly focused on parts of the system. This is a serious flaw, because the system contains many leaks, wastages, inefficiencies and other undesirable effects. The leaching of minerals from the soil and non-productive use of the large waste flows from production are examples of this. This is untenable, because we only have one planet, with a limited supply of renewable raw materials. Furthermore, this style of production damages the ecosystem by putting pressure on biodiversity, contaminating soil, water and air and changing the planet into a greenhouse that, in the long term, will render large areas unliveable and unproductive. Fisheries are experiencing a similar pattern on a global scale, where individual entrepreneurs are powerless and therefore unable to contribute to sustainable management of natural capital, which can lead to over fishing. Fishing has traditionally formed the economic basis of many villages and towns and is linked in cultural-historical terms with its surroundings. However, less and less space seems to be available for fisheries. In the North Sea, for example, space is increasingly being allocated to generation of sustainable energy, and nature conservation measures put limitations on fishing activities. The discussions in Europe about pulse fishing and the landing obligation (or discards ban) are making the entrepreneurial climate uncertain for fishermen. Cost reductions and production increases also lead to pressure on the living environment. In the Netherlands, this has come at the expense of biodiversity, the environment, the quality of drinking water and the attractiveness of the landscape. Over time, these factors, as well as urbanisation and the reduction of the agricultural working population, have led to a considerable divide between farmers and citizens. The latter have little knowledge about the origins of their food. As a result, farmers and growers do not always feel valued and appreciated for the work they do providing people’s daily food and drink. Things need to change.
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