Follow-up interviews with benefits affair: what did Rutte, Asscher and Wiebes know? | NOW

On Monday, the interrogation committee will continue the search for what went wrong in the childcare allowance. After officials had to account for themselves last week, it is now the turn of politicians who turned the knobs at the time.

Last week (former) top civil servants and experts were summoned to oath heard to become.

In the second week it will be the turn of (former) politicians who were at the helm. What did they know?

Monday, November 23:
Frans Weekers
– Secretary of State for Finance 2010-2014
Weekers thinks the all-or-nothing approach is too strict, according to the then director of the tax authorities Peter Veld. But according to the tax official, he was not specifically involved in the CAF 11 case, in which the childminder agency from Eindhoven is involved.

In any case, Weekers did not pursue his concern politically. This may have to do with the fact that he has to find a solution to the Bulgarian fraud under great social and political pressure.

It now appears that this was the prelude to a much too strict policy to detect fraudsters. Weekers will eventually step down in 2014 on a different issue.

Eric Wiebes
– Secretary of State for Finance 2014 – 2017
Wiebes, now Minister of Economic Affairs, will succeed Weekers. Wiebes pays attention to the fight against fraud in a general sense, because he knows how difficult it was for his predecessor.

In 2014, the Tax and Customs Administration, the policy-maker for the benefits, discussed the tough stance of the tax authorities. According to former director of the Tax and Customs Administration Peter Veld, Wiebes considered the policy “also punishment” at the time and saw that the rules must be changed.

Ultimately, no action was ever taken.

Lodewijk Asscher
– Minister of Social Affairs 2012 – 2017
It is a lot about the Tax and Customs Administration in the benefits affair, but officially, Social Affairs is the policymaker in this area. The tax authorities carry out and detect fraud. As a result, the current PvdA leader Asscher has been called up for questioning.

Up to the highest level within the Ministries of Social Affairs and Finance, a different approach has been worked on, because it was also seen there that parents were getting into trouble.

Shortly before Christmas in 2014, Asscher was to be informed about this, but according to then top civil servant Marcelis Boereboom, the documents never ended up in the bag of the minister. Asscher also stated that he did not remember the pieces.

During a parliamentary debate in 2015, Asscher endorses the approach of the Tax and Customs Administration that they can reclaim the entire amount if parents make a mistake.

Wednesday, November 25:
Tamara van Ark
– Secretary of State for Social Affairs 2017 2020
Van Ark, now Minister for Medical Care, was, like Asscher, responsible for the childcare allowance in terms of policy.

When former State Secretary of Finance Menno Snel wants to promise parents compensation in June last year, Van Ark is going for it. According to Social Affairs officials because a plan has not been worked out properly.

Under Van Ark’s administration, a new allowance system for childcare was worked on for a long time, but that was blocked at the very last moment by the Ministry of Finance. Childcare director at Sociale Zaken Maaike van Tuyll also says she is “surprised” about the change.

Menno Snel
– Secretary of State for Finance 2017 – 2019
Snel is State Secretary for Finance when Van Ark comes with the proposal to adjust the benefits system. The idea is that parents are less likely to suffer from the tough approach of the tax authorities.

But Snel foresees financial risks, according to childcare director Van Tuyll. Moreover, the Benefits department would be “the best running part” of the Tax and Customs Administration.

According to former director of the Tax and Customs Administration Uijlenbroek, on June 4, 2019, Snel realized that things had to change radically. He therefore announced that he would amend the law. Ultimately, the problems persist and he resigns in December of that year.

Thursday, November 26:
Wopke Hoekstra
– Minister of Finance 2017 – present
Primarily, the State Secretary for Finance is charged with the Tax and Customs Administration and not the Minister, although he is ultimately responsible as the political leader of the department. Hoekstra has remained fairly out of the wind.

He does, however, commission an investigation that leads to a declaration by Finance against its own tax authorities. An unprecedented step. Hoekstra was briefly the face of the tax authorities after Snel’s resignation, but that changed when D66, together with Alexandra van Huffelen, provided a new State Secretary.

Mark Rutte
– Prime Minister 2010 – present
Just like Hoekstra, Rutte as prime minister never became the face of the benefits affair, although he compared the file in January of this year with regard to the air disaster with MH17 and the earthquakes in Groningen.

Rutte’s role mainly lies with the ministerial committee against fraud, which he led in his previous cabinet. Between 2013 and 2016, this commission increased the fraud hunt.

Documents from this committee are secret, and the House did not see them either. But the interrogation committee does have the documents in its possession and can use them during the interrogation of Rutte.

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