Three days late, Flemish Government comes to agreement on budget

Three days late, Flemish Government comes to agreement on budget
Flemish Minister President Jan Jambon. Credit: Belga/Laurie Dieffembacq

Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon was unable to deliver the traditional 'September declaration' on Monday since Flanders could not balance its budget. The three governing parties in Flanders' Government finally reached an agreement on Wednesday evening.

Three days after the budget was supposed to be presented, the Flemish rightwing N-VA, Christian-democratic CD&V and liberal Open VLD parties reached an agreement on "measures against the energy crisis as well as the budget," announced Jambon in a Tweet.

"I thank everyone in my government for making this agreement possible. All details tomorrow during the September declaration," he said, adding the hashtag "#exceptionallysatisfied."

Sammy Mahdi, the leader of the CD&V party, also tweeted to confirm that his party would approve the budget plan, after the delay this week was caused due to its refusal to approve the previous version.

The main issue was with the child benefit system – called the Growth Package – as CD&V demanded that those benefits (for every family with children) would increase every time the index is exceeded, instead of only focusing specifically on those families who need it most.

On Wednesday evening, Mahdi tweeted that Flemish people need support, not chaos. "The best support for 1.6 million children remains the index. Unfortunately, we stand alone. The game has been played hard by everyone in recent days. For me, it stops when the welfare of 6.6 million Flemish people is at stake."

"We will approve the budget with all the good measures for childcare, the elderly, local middle class... That cost us blood, sweat and tears," he said. "We take our responsibility and all the s**t that goes with it. CD&V does not let the Flemish people down."

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The first measures have also been confirmed to Flemish media: social allowances for those on low incomes will be increased by €15, and the group of people entitled to that allowance will be expanded by 50,000 families (going from about 30,000 to 80,000).

Spending on child benefits will rise to an additional €160 million this year and €230 million by 2027. Each year, an extra €100 million will also be released for childcare. Additionally, those eligible to receive the 'job bonus' support this year will get an extra €100. From next year, that group will be expanded to those earning €2,900 gross per month, instead of up to €2,500 gross currently.

As reported earlier, the Growth Package, the former child benefit, will be indexed by 2% instead of 1% each year and an additional one-off premium of €100 extra per child will also be given, this year and next.

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