Henk Nijboer, an MP for PvdA, and Chris Stoffer, an MP for SGP, proposed that instead of increasing the interest rate on student loans, the so-called ‘expat subsidy’ should be amended. Nijboer and Stoffer feel that this tax break for foreign academics should be cancelled, effective 2020, for people whose annual income exceeds €178,000.

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The Intercity Students’ Organisation (ISO) was very much in favour of this proposal. “Today, the Cabinet gets to choose between a pay cut for rich expats and getting students even further into debt,” said ISO President Tom van den Brink.

The House chose Option No 2 and rejected the amendment. The four parties making up the government voted against the amendment, as did PVV. CDA’s ‘against’ was particularly notable, since its members appeared to be very much against the increase in interest rates at the party conference held in early November. They supported a motion tabled by Young CDA members, stating that it was CDA’s duty to oppose the rise in interest rates.

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CDA leader Sybrand Buma and MP Harry van der Molen immediately stated at the time that it would be hard to get the amendment passed, as the rise in interest rates was included in the coalition agreement and the Young CDA members had not come up with an alternative to the rise.

The fact that the two MPs proposing yesterday’s amendment had come up with an alternative did not sway the CDA MPs. “We can all come up with alternatives,” said Van de Molen, “but they have to be acceptable, too. We recently entered into new commitments regarding the expat subsidy scheme when the dividend withholding tax was abolished. We can’t just go back on our word about that.”

The saga is not over yet. The Lower House will discuss the bill in detail at the end of the month.