The Captains of Industry write an open letter to the future Flemish and federal government. They hope to leave their footprint on the ongoing (Flemish) or future (federal) policy talks.
"Things need to change", Karel De Boeck (photo) told the VRT's morning radio programme "De Ochtend". De Boeck used to be at the helm of Dexia bank and took the initiative. "There are increasing concerns about the position of our country. We are now being listed together with countries from southern Europe. That means: a large debt rate, budget deficits, few pension reserves, and this despite high tax rates."
Belgium is now being listed together with South-European countries. Things need to change
This is not good, and we need to do something about it, says De Boeck: "More people should be at work, and we should reduce governance costs. We also need to simplify things, such as our tax system: we now have too many "back doors"," he summarises.
The last proposal is remarkable, since it may harm the business sector's own interests: "Big companies with the best tax consultants take advantage of the complexity of our tax system. They get major subsidies and hardly pay any taxes. This increases the pressure on other companies and normal citizens", he explains.
De Boeck points out that the Belgian tax system has about 800 different categories: "This must be some kind of world record."
Business leaders have a whole list of tips
Apart from a thorough tax reform, the Captains of Industry have a whole list of other suggestions. To boost the employment rate, they suggest that immigrants should have access to the labour market more quickly. Also, the cost of all our governments and institutions should go down: "In Belgium, this is at 52 percent, while in the Netherlands this is only 40 percent", says De Boeck.
He makes a concrete proposal: "Abolish the Senate and parts of our provinces, and make sure more municipalities work together." De Boeck says the concerns are increasing: "It seems we are unable to find a solution for our challenges."
Other proposals are about a social policy, the environment, mobility and the judicial system. They support a tax on flight tickets and a road congestion tax, among other things. The N-VA used to support a road charging system, but abandoned the idea when it turned out they could loses votes. Click here to read the full list of proposals.
Abolish the Senate