Belgians pay 228 euros more for their energy than in neighbouring countries and there is consequently a pressing need to lower VAT on electricity from 21% to 6%. The PTB bases this proposal with the feel of a pre-election slogan on its research department’s figures.
These figures compared energy prices in Belgium, since the present federal government took up office in October 2014, with average prices in four neighbouring countries (Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom).
The department maintains that under the De Wever-Michel government, the energy bills of Belgian households have risen by more than half and that in comparison with neighbouring countries where they have tended to remain stable, they have also increased five times faster. The Belgian consumer accordingly pays 228 euros more today, whereas he/she paid 45 euros less at the start of the legislative term.
“We can all remember the “Swedish” coalition’s promise to make sure energy bills were affordable, but the opposite has happened,” Peter Mertens, the president of the PTB, commented. A Swedish coalition in Belgium is a centre-right government with the liberals (whose party colour is blue), Flemish nationalists (party colour yellow) and the Christian Democrats (cross) that mimics the Swedish flag. “In five years, a Belgian household’s energy bill has risen by 360 euros, an increase of nearly 50%,” Peter Mertens, the president of the PTB, commented.
According to him, several factors are to blame for the rise, the steepest concerning the VAT rate, which went from 6% to 21% in August 2015.
The party is demanding the next government takes prompt action to cut VAT on energy to 6% and reduces green energy prices. The PTB also wants to tackle what it considers the exorbitant prices charged for green electricity (‘green certificates’).
To bridge the gap in energy prices with neighbouring countries, the far left party is calling for – apart from a return to the old VAT rate of 6% – structural measures to be taken through the setting of price ceilings regulated by public authorities for domestic users. These would apply to both electricity and gas. Finally, it wants to guarantee fixed prices that could only be adjusted once a year.
The Brussels Times