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Reports: Dutch government resigns over child benefits scandal

The Dutch government has resigned following a scandal involving child benefits, media and news agency ANP reported in The Hague on Friday.

Amsterdam, 15 January 2021 (dpa/MIA) — The Dutch government has resigned following a scandal involving child benefits, media and news agency ANP reported in The Hague on Friday.

The move comes just a few weeks before planned parliamentary elections in March.

The government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte was responding to the scandal in which some 20,000 parents had been falsely portrayed as fraudsters over child benefit payments and plunged into great financial hardship.

Between 2013 and 2019—while Rutte was in power—tax authorities reclaimed parents’ child benefits based on accusations of tax fraud that were later revealed to be false.

In December, a parliamentary commission sharply criticized the proceedings of authorities, the government and the courts, saying that the “basic principles of the rule of law have been violated.”

The government has apologized to the parents and paid compensation of 30,000 euros (36,300 dollars) to each family.

However, Rutte’s government was placed under further pressure after leading Social Democrat Lodewijk Asscher, who was social minister until 2017, resigned over the scandal on Thursday.

The government’s resignation is likely to have little impact on the parliamentary elections that are planned for March 17, as Rutte’s VVD party is still leading the polls and he could form a new government.

The prime minister previously said the government would remain fully operational in terms of handling the coronavirus crisis, even if it stepped down.

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