A deferment for the return to balanced public finances by 2019 is possible, but it is simply one of the three leverages of the budget work, explained Tuesday the Budget Minister, Sophie Wilmès. “There are three budget levers that are not mutually exclusive: expenses, revenue and trajectory. Deferring a balanced budget is possible respecting the European guidelines, but it is not a cure-all. Work would have to continue on the other levers,” she stressed following declarations made in recent days.
The European Commission’s main concern is for Belgium to abide by its “mid-term objective (MTO)”; that is, its capacity to finance itself and to take on the costs of an ageing population. Because of the pension reform, this MTO went from 0.75% of budgetary surplus in the mid-term, to 0%.
The budget stability programme presented by Belgium to the European Union considers a return to a balanced budget in 2018. A report issued by Conseil supérieur des Finances (CSF) last April forecasts the deferment to 2019. Mrs. Wilmès (MR) however notes that the decisions will be taken by the council of ministers following the analysis work being carried out.
“The group of decisions will be taken within the government following the detailed examination of figures which is underway. We are still at this stage. Discussions within the council of ministers have not yet begun,” she added.