Thunderstorms and hail forecast for Wednesday afternoon

The KNMI weather bureau has issued a code yellow weather warning for the entire country on Wednesday afternoon, saying thunderstorms and hail are forecast nationwide. Prior to the storms moving over the country, the temperature will rise to between 24C and 30C in the east. The wind will also move to the south west and rise in strength, reaching up to 75 kph in places, the KNMI said. The storm warning runs until midnight. Thursday will be cooler at around 22C and there will be showers at times. Temperatures will begin rising again over the weekend, reaching as high as 32C by next Tuesday, when thunderstorms are again likely. The KNMI  long range forecast is for more of the same, with temperatures below average for the time of year, showers and some storms.  More >

CPB revises down spending power projection

The government's macro-economic think-tank CPB has revised down its spending power projections for this year, saying people will only have 1.2% more in disposable income than a year ago. The previous forecast was an average rise in spending power of 1.6%. For 2020, the CPB has increased its forecast marginally, from 1.3% to 1.4%. This year's forecasts have been revised because wages have not risen by as much as thought, while prices have gone up, partly due to the increase in value added tax on food, the CPB said in its June statement. The think tank expects wages to rise an average 2.5% this year, while inflation will hit 2.6%. The CPB estimates come in the wake of surprise comments made by prime minister Mark Rutte this weekend, in which he told the VVD party congress the government may reconsider cutting corporation tax if big companies did not start putting up wages significantly. ‘The only thing which is going up is the salaries of senior staff, not people covered by collective labour agreements (cao),’ Rutte said. ‘They are not going up enough, and I do not consider that to be acceptable.’ Unemployment The CPB also expects unemployment to rise slightly next year and puts economic growth at a 'standard' 1.7% this year and 1.5% in 2020. 'American trade policy, Brexit and Italy are important risk factors for the Dutch economy,' the CPB said. 'There is a real chance that the the US will bring in tariffs on European cars and other trade limits. And the chance of a disorderly Brexit has only increased with prime minister May's resignation.' Read the new forecasts (English)  More >

Exam chaos at Amsterdam trade school

Over three-quarters of pupils in the final year of an Amsterdam trade school have been told they have to take more tests before their final grades in their school leaving exams can be established. School inspectors were brought in after it emerged pupils had not taken several compulsory exams and now 68 of 77 pupils have been told they need to sit more tests. It is unclear whether the problems are due to administrative errors or sloppiness on behalf of teachers, but 'there are problems in every subject' a spokesman for the Calvijn College told the Volkskrant. The nine pupils who have taken all the vmbo exams have to wait for the rest to find out their results. Some 15 pupils have to take more than two exams to finish their school year. There were similar problems with incomplete exams at a trade school in Maastricht last year.  More >

7,000 guilder bill for butcher's birthday

A Leeuwarden butcher who allowed his clients to pay with pre-euro currency to celebrate his shop’s 25th anniversary has found himself stuck with piles of guilder notes because the Dutch central bank is no longer accepting them. ‘It is really annoying, but at least we won’t forget the weekend,’ butcher Johannes Hoekstra told the AD. ‘I thought it was a fun idea and I did not really expect much to happen,’ he says. ‘But it is unbelievable what people have kept all these years.’ Customers were allowed to pay 1994 prices for their mince and sausages, bringing in some 7,000 guilders - the equivalent of €3,200. Some of the notes accepted by Hoekstra’s staff never existed in reality, such as a brown 100 guilder note featuring Geert Wilders’ head. ‘It was hard to keep track at times, so I don’t blame my staff. I’ll keep the notes as a memory,’ he said. Once the doors were closed and the cash counted, Hoekstra discovered that the central bank no longer accepts guilder notes from companies, just private individuals. Now collectors and customers have heard about his predicament and have offered to buy the guilders from him. Hoekstra has not yet decided what to do. ‘If we’ve lost our money then that's as may be,’ he said. ‘We’ve had a great weekend at any rate.’ Guilders were no longer legal tender in the Netherlands from January 1, 2002. In 2017, the central bank said it estimated some €455m is still in circulation.  More >

Centres for problem asylum seekers to shut

The Netherlands' two centres for problem asylum seekers are both to be closed down at the end of this year. The centres in Heerenveen and in Amsterdam were opened on two-year contracts in 2017 and were each supposed to house 50 asylum seekers who caused trouble at regular centres and needed to be moved elsewhere. Most of the residents come from safe third countries such as Morocco and face deportation but have not yet been sent back. In Amsterdam, city officials have said they will close the centre as planned. 'We were being called out to incidents involving the residents at least twice a week,' a police spokesman told broadcaster NOS. The decision to close the centre had been taken due to the scarcity of property in the Dutch capital and to comply with promises to locals, mayor Femke Halsema said. 'It is now time for other towns and cities to take on this role,' she said. In Heerenveen, where the other centre is located, its residents have been banned from several parts of town, including the local shopping centre because of the problems they cause. 'We have had to deal mainly with people who have no chance of getting a permanent residency permit,' mayor Niek Loohuis told NOS. The justice ministry has pledged to speed up the assessment of asylum requests by people from safe countries, so they can be sent back as quickly as possible. On Monday it emerged that thousands of rejected migrants are stuck in the Netherlands because their home countries have refused to take them back. Meanwhile, police said on Tuesday that three men were wounded in a stabbing incident at a refugee centre in Harderwijk on Monday night. Two were taken to hospital.  More >

Teens beg for cash via Tikkie payments

ABN Amro is trying to get to grips with a new phenomena - begging online for cash using its micro payment system Tikkie - because it is often unclear who is behind the accounts. So far the bank has managed to have 50 of an estimated 100 'Tikkie accounts' removed from Facebook and Instagram, in which people ask for donations so they can by food or have plastic surgery, broadcaster NOS reported on Tuesday. Tikkie is a system which allows people to pay over money using a payment link either via a mobile phone or social media. Some five million people in the Netherlands have downloaded the app and some 200,000 payments are made using it every day. Now youngsters are using the system to raise money, often in tiny amounts, NOS said. Mustafa, 15, told the broadcaster he had raised €12 though his Tikkie voor iPhonex account. Wouter and Sacha claim to have raised 'a good amount' with their Tikkie voor Kaas account. ABN Amro is not happy with the trend and is trying to tackle it. 'We are in touch with Facebook, which owns Instagram, about how to solve it,' a spokesman told the broadcaster. 'We do take these sorts of accounts offline and Facebook and Instagram are trying as well.' Youngsters should be extremely careful about making payments to unknown accounts because they can be exposing themselves to fraud, the bank said. Accounts which wrongly use the Tikkie logo are automatically removed but it is more problematic if people are simply trying to raise money for a new phone or a trip to the US, the spokesman said.  More >

Zandvoort Grand Prix tickets hit €140

Tickets for next year's Zandvoort Grand Prix will cost upwards of €140 per adult for one day's racing, according to the race website. Registration for tickets closed on Sunday and actual ticket sales will start on June 24 via email, the organisers said. If demand for tickets outstrips supply there will be a lottery. The date for the race in the Netherlands, the first in 36 years, has not yet been set but is likely to be May 3 or May 10. The race will be held before the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May but the 2020 calendar 'has not been finalised'. The last Zandvoort Grand Prix, which was won by Niki Lauda, took place in 1985. The Dutch fixture dropped off the calendar because it was to expensive to stage. The cost in 2020 expected to hit €40m, which includes a €20m fee to the Formula 1 organisation. Some €10m needs to be spent on improving facilities at the track, including building temporary stands. The money will come from sponsors and ticket sales. The circuit has been divided into seven zones with different ticket prices per area. The cheapest, for the dunes, is €140 for Sunday's race day or €185 for a weekend. The most expensive - the golden zone - costs €510 for a passe partout for the entire weekend. Children will cost €82 in the dune area and people with disabilities face a €185 ticket for the race day itself. Some 100,000 people are expected to attend the event. The government said earlier it will not contribute financially to plans to bring Formula 1 racing back to the Netherlands because it would not be a justifiable use of taxpayers money.  More >