Budget:extra time for Mr Di Rupo

Belgium's caretaker government is giving the Francophone socialist leader Elio Di Rupo more time in order to strike a deal on state reforms. Earlier the Prime Minister, Yves Leterme (Flemish Christian democrat), had given the formateur until 10 September to come up with an accord. Otherwise the outgoing administration would start to draft next year's budget.

Following a cabinet meeting in Brussels the Budget Minister, Guy Vanhengel (Flemish liberal), told newsmen that his government would wait until the end of September before it started formal budget talks.

Belgium's Inner Cabinet met on Wednesday morning to consider the budgetary situation and the prospects for next year. Initially it was thought that the outgoing administration would have to start drawing up the 2012 budget by mid-September, if there was to be enough time to complete the process successfully.

Optimism about the government formation talks has now convinced ministers to give Mr Di Rupo extra time to reach agreement on state reforms and put together a new cabinet. The caretaker government has promised to do the necessary preparatory work to facilitate the drafting of the 2012 budget. This will allow Mr Di Rupo's new team, if it materialises, to base its decisions on these calculations.