Finance Minister: "We are tackling the banks"

The Belgian Finance Minister Steven Vanackere (Flemish Christian democrat) has responded to criticism from Green Party leader Wouter Van Besien, who accused him of failing to tackle the banks.

In his New Year's speech Mr Van Besien attacked the government for failing to impose restrictions on the banks following the financial crisis. He added that Finance Minister Vanackere was satisfied as long as the budget deficit was cut.

Speaking on VRT Radio Finance Minister Vanackere insisted that the government's ambitions went further than cutting the budget deficit. However, he also noted that as a result of a budget that was on track Belgium had reduced interest payments on its debt by 1.5 billion euros.

The Finance Minister also stressed that a lot of hard work had already gone into imposing stricter regulation on the banks: "Together with Parliament we have already done a tremendous lot."

Mr Vanackere went on to emphasize that many measures will only have a visible impact in time.

"We should stop being modest. As the Federal Government we have decided to emphasize the good things that we are doing."