Diesel and alcohol to become more expensive?

The parties negotiating the terms to form a new centre-right federal government may impose new taxes after all - contrary to what most of them have always maintained. However, finding 17.3 billion euros and also reduce certain types of tax - such as employers' tax - may only be possible if revenues are going up. There are talks of a higher excise duty on diesel and alcohol.

The idea was put forward in the documents compiled by the two co-formateurs, the daily De Tijd reported this morning. The news was confirmed to the VRT news desk. The report of the co-formateurs, Charles Michel of the Francophone liberals (MR) and Kris Peeters of the Flemish Christian democrats (CD&V, photo) serves as the basis for the actual talks between the different parties at the table - these include, apart from MR and CD&V, also the Flemish liberals of Open VLD and the Flemish nationalists of N-VA.

Finding 17.3 billion is a huge challenge. It's in fact even more if you take into account that some taxes will be cut, to give employers more breathing space. This is where the idea of a tax shift emerged: a shift from taxes on labour to taxes on consumption. Diesel and alcohol would be targeted, according to unofficial sources. It is said that diesel would become as expensive as petrol. This is not the case at present, which is why many motorists covering a lot of miles are still opting for a polluting diesel car.

The Belgian idea would be welcomed by Europe, which supports higher duties on diesel to reduce particulate matter in the air, a lingering problem and even a threat to public health in a densely populated country like Belgium.

The higher excise duties would pay for a reduction of the employers' contribution to the tax that is being paid on workers' wages. This contribution could drop from 33 to 25 percent. Middle-sized businesses would not have to pay social contributions for the first 3 employees, is another idea that is on the table. The ideas put forward by the formateurs have to be discussed by the different parties at the table first. They can be adapted, or even rejected completely.