Negotiators will have to dig deeper

The parties that are involved in the negotiations for the formation of a new Federal Government will have to find 10 billion Euro for the 2012 budget, if Belgium’s budget deficit is to be brought down to 2.8%. The figures come from the Federal Budget Control and Management Service’s Monitoring Committee. The Monitoring Committee is made up of a group of high-level civil servants that keep close tabs on the budget.

On Wednesday morning it was announced that the parties involved in the coalition negotiations and not the incumbent caretaker government would be responsible for drafting the 2012 federal budget.

The figures from the Monitoring Committee are well up on the 8 billion Euro the parties initially believed they would have to find to keep the budget on track.

The new figure of 10 billion Euro appears in articles in Friday’s editions of the financial dailies ‘De Tijd’ and ‘L’Echo’ .

The Secretary of State responsible for the budget in the incumbent government Melchior Wathelet (Francophone Christian democrat) has confirmed that 10 billion Euro needs to be found for next year’s budget.

However, the offices of some of his cabinet colleagues say that the figures are based on a worst case scenario.

Meanwhile, Mr Wathlet says that the figures are based on no changes being made to current policies. No account has been taken of increases in health expenditure that is currently growing much less quickly than the 4.5% provided for by the incumbent government.

Equally, no account has been taken of the proposed bank tax or new limits to tax relief on investments by companies.

The two financial dailies conclude that with this in mind, the parties will have to find around 7 billion rather than 10 billion Euro.

Previously the Federal Planning Bureau had estimated that 5.7 billion Euros would have to be found if the budget deficit were to be brought down to 2.8%.