Inflation figures give an overall indication of the cost of living. The higher the inflation, the more expensive life has become. It's not often that we see a negative inflation these days, but this was the case in the month of November. And there's more: the drop is even more outspoken for the month of December.
The latest drop is mostly due to plummeting oil prices on the international markets, which results in cheaper petrol and diesel prices at filling stations. These are 10 per cent down on the year, and 5 per cent on the month. Flight tickets and vegetables on the other hand became more expensive, wiping out a part of this effect. In other words, whether you really feel that life is getting cheaper, depends on your spending habits and activities.
Belgium has a system of wage indexation. This means that government wages, benefits etc. are automatically raised when life becomes more expensive. Due to the latest negative inflation figures, the next indexation is only due for July next year. However, the federal government decided to skip the next one, in order to give companies and employers more breathing space in an attempt to cut labour costs. Employees shouldn't expect a pay rise just yet, except of course when they (or their trades union) made a specific deal with their private employer.
At the same time, electricity prices are expected to see a sharp rise of up to 35 per cent from January, depending on the region where you live.