Dutch government expects unemployment to fall to record low

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, center, arrive in a horse-drawn carriage at the Knight's Hall in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, for a ceremony marking the opening of the parliamentary year with a speech by King Willem-Alexander outlining the government's budget plans for the year ahead. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The Dutch economy will grow by 2.6 percent next year and unemployment will fall to a record low of 3.5 percent, the government said Tuesday as it presented its budget plans for the coming year.

The projected sixth year of growth reflected an economy that has recovered strongly from the global financial crisis a decade ago.

With the economy booming, the plans included extra spending on defense forces, police and security, education and infrastructure.

The government also earmarked 90 million euros ($105 million) to strengthen customs and food safety services as they deal with next year's Brexit.

King Willem-Alexander unveiled the economic projections while opening the new parliamentary year with a speech to both houses of parliament that outlines the policy plans of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's four-party ruling coalition.

The king and Queen Maxima rode through crowd-lined streets of The Hague in a horse-drawn carriage to deliver the speech that is written by the government, at the historic Knights Hall in the middle of the parliamentary complex.

Presenting the budget to lawmakers in the lower house of Dutch parliament, Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra confirmed that the government plans to scrap a tax on dividends - a move that is intended to keep big businesses in the Netherlands and attract new multinationals. The plan has run into fierce criticism from opposition parties.

Speaking on national broadcaster NOS, Jesse Klaver, leader of the opposition Green Left party, criticized the measure, saying the government "should work for all Dutch people, not a few multinationals."