“Families will pick up the bill”

The opposition parties have reacted with criticism to the measures agreed upon by the four parties that will form Belgium’s new Federal Government.

The Flemish socialist leader Bruno Tobback (top photo) told listeners to VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ that families will pick up the bill for the measures contained in the coalition agreement.

Mr Tobback said that the 250 euro/annum increase in the tax-free sum for work-related expenses is “poor compensation” when you look at what extra expenses will be carried by working people as a result of the policies of the Flemish and (yet to be formed) Federal Government.

Mr Tobback also criticised the Federal Government negotiators’ decision to introduce a tax on fortunes that are sent off-shore rather than a system of capital gains tax on all income from investments.
Despite Mr Tobback’s, the new tax was very nearly introduced by the outgoing Di Rupo government of which his party was a member.

"I’m not against it, but you can’t call it a keystone policy.” ."
Mr Tobback also vowed to revoke the raising of the retirement age to 67. "This will be the first measure that we will revoke on the first day that the Flemish socialists are back in the Federal Government."
 

"Inequitable and unfair choice"

The Flemish greens’ Group Leader in the Chamber of Representatives Kristof Calvo (photo) told the VRT that “Here a choices have been made that are inequitable and unfair.”

 

Despite conceding that we need to work longer in order to sustain our old age pension system, Mr Calvo says that raising the statutory retirement age is not the answer.

“We need to bridge the gap between the average age at which people are retiring (currently 60) and the statutory retirement age (65) and make sure that people are able to work for longer.

There was also criticism for the extent of the measures to reduce the wage burden for employers and the failure to introduce a system of capital gains tax.

"The negotiators haven’t necessarily made the best choices, but rather choices driven by dogma. Things that sound good if you are a right-wing conservative politician”, Mr Calvo concluded.

“The N-VA hasn’t changed Belgium; Belgium has changed the N-VA”

The far-right Vlaams Belang focussed its criticism of the coalition agreement on the lack of any proposals for further Flemish autonomy and “stop the flow of public money from Flanders to Wallonia”.

The man set to become the party’s new leader Tom Van Grieken (photo) wrote on Facebook and Twitter that “The N-VA hasn’t changed Belgium, Belgium has changed the N-VA.

Meanwhile, the far-left PVDA/PTB+ MP Raoul Hedebouw told journalists that “The Michel government has come out of the closet as a government that will make working people, pensioners and the young poorer and shareholders richer”.