With the health crisis and all the resulting expenses, Secretary of State for the Budget Eva De Bleeker (OpenVLD) has her work cut out for her. Surprise in the casting of the Vivaldi and made “popular” when it leaked the prices of the various vaccines ordered by Belgium on Twitter, the liberal will have to get down to relaunching our country on post-Covid rails.
The Belgian deficit amounts to 10% in 2020, or 44 billion euros. Never since the post-war period has the gap to be bridged been so great. What horizon does our country offer itself with such a large debt? “I have hope“, relativizes immediately the Secretary of State in charge of finding the levers to fill this hollow.
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“We can see that consumer confidence is very high for the moment, as is business confidence.“Her hope is therefore clear. She hopes that as soon as the measures limiting the spread of the epidemic are lifted, Belgians and Europeans will start spending again.”They saved a lot, not everyone of course because part of the population has been impacted by the crisis but a large part has been able to save money and as consumer confidence increases.“
Towards new prices for PCR tests?
On the agenda of the next consultation committee to be held this Friday, June 4, PCR tests. While many countries require a test before entering their territory, our French neighbors benefit from these Covid tests for free. Result: many Belgians cross the border so as not to spend a cent to get tested.
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With a minimum price of 47 euros, Belgium is still far from free. However, a partial assumption of this amount by the government would be on the agenda. “We will discuss it within the government“, confirms Eva de Bleeker. “But if we do everything for free, of course that increases the public debt. We will try to find a balance. I heard 500 million euros but it depends if we do all or part for free and nothing is decided yet.“
Projects now to maintain prospects
The objective assumed by Eva de Bleeker: “to give young people opportunities in the future”. “Our government has chosen to do everything necessary to support the economy and give future generations perspective.“
Corona aid will therefore be maintained for sectors affected by the crisis and which are still struggling to see a way out when it is known that some rules could remain in force until September. If these sectors are scrutinized with increased vigilance by the government, “for sectors that do not know how to be open to everything because of the measures”, it will be a forced passage by the box of extension of aid set by the authorities.
“But now we have to cut some measures too because there are restaurants and a whole other series of sectors that are starting again. We spent a lot so now we have to make sure we don’t spend too much“, however nuances Eva de Bleeker.
Towards new taxes?
But to pay off the debt, the equation is quite simple, you have to generate new revenue. Go somewhere to draw the money that will be able to reduce this enormous rate of money that Belgium has to reimburse. According to the Secretary of State in charge of the Budget, the work has already begun. “Maybe we haven’t seen it yet because for the moment we are talking all the time about spending to fight against corona, but this government has already started to make budgetary efforts.“
Among the revenues already planned to remedy this shortfall in the accounts of our country, new revenues are already on the agenda of the Vivaldi government. “For example taxes on securities accounts. There is also the aspect of making a better collection of fines and the fight against social and fiscal fraud.“Eva De Bleeker also specifies that a major tax reform is underway and led by the Minister of Finance, Vincent Van Peteghem.”We need more honest and more correct taxation in Belgium“, she concludes.
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Regarding the deficit that existed before the crisis, it returns the ball to the governments which preceded it: “The problem is that in Belgium there is a structural deficit that existed before the corona“, she points out.”And in the government agreement, a fixed budget effort of 0.2% has been provided for and also a variable budget effort of 0.2 or even 0.3 or 0.4% depending on the economic situation.“