Belgian government to go into 'shutdown' on Thursday night

Belgian government to go into 'shutdown' on Thursday night
The Federal Public Service for the Budget will block all federal credits as a precaution. Credit: Belga

The Federal government will go into a (short) 'shutdown' starting from Thursday, as the King will not be able to sign the law on the federal budget before the extended weekend.

The Chamber of Representatives has to adopt the law on the provisional twelfths, which is a budgetary technique to finance the government's public spending in the absence of an approved annual budget, stipulating that if a government has not adopted a budget for the coming year by 31 December, it can only spend one-twelfth of what it has spent the previous year per month.

The provisional twelfths budget has been replacing a fully-fledged budget since the fall of the Michel government in December 2018. The government has to vote every two months on continuing to use the twelfths for the next two months.

The vote for the November and December budget is now happening a week later than originally planned because the far-left party PVDA managed, against all odds, to find a majority in favour of a new bill that wants to spend more money in the healthcare sector, reports De Morgen.

However, as Friday 1 November is a holiday and King Philippe cannot formally ratify the law with his signature before the weekend, the Federal Public Service for the Budget fears that the government's necessary credits will no longer be available afterwards. An e-mail with this information was sent to all government services, reports De Tijd.

As a precaution, the Federal Public Service for the Budget will block all federal credits from 11:59 PM on Thursday until the King has signed the law, which will most likely happen right after the weekend, reports De Tijd.

In practice, the shutdown will only have minor consequences. The government will continue to function, and salaries of civil servants will be paid like normal. However, formally, the government cannot make any payments until the bill has been signed.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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