The President of Belgium's socialist party, Paul Magnette, has called for greater efforts to fight tax evasion instead of making cuts to public spending in the 2022 budget, currently being discussed by ministers in the Federal Government.
“If we apply ourselves to fighting tax fraud, we can find two, three, four billion euros,” Magnette said on Flemish public channel VRT in reference to the “Pandora Papers,” a body of documents unearthed by journalists that shows how offshore companies are used to evade taxes.
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For Magnette, who heads the largest of the three French-speaking parties in Belgium’s seven-member Vivaldi coalition, the main thing is not how much money is saved in putting together the budget but the way it is done. “One, two, three, four billion - the amount is not essential. The issue is how we do it,” he told VRT.
The head of Belgium’s Francophone Socialists stressed the need to clamp down on tax evasion and suggested that the focus should be on those with the largest incomes and multinationals. “There’s a lot of money that we can find among Belgian families that lodge their money in tax havens,” without making ordinary citizens pay, he said.
Public investment whilst interest rates are low
Well-known names are among the individuals and companies exposed by the Pandora Papers, the PS leader recalled. “It’s a scandal when these people don’t pay their taxes correctly in Belgium,” he argued. “Our budget would otherwise be balanced.”
Magnette also deplored the fact that some investments that were included in the recovery plan were being cut by the line ministers during the budget negotiations, with the initial €3 billion expenditure slashed to €1 billion. “I find that a bit of a pity,” Magnette said. “We really need to invest."
“Moreover, it costs us practically nothing since interest rates are very low,” he added, reiterating that he was in favour of investing in railways, insulation and renovating buildings.
Such investments need to be more than a billion euros, the PS leader stressed, arguing that public investments cost little but benefit the economy and jobs.
The Brussels Times