The sharp rise in fuel prices that have been felt across the continent will bring an additional €547 million to the Belgian State, the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) has calculated. In response, the party is calling for a reduction in tax duties.
Citing the steep increase in energy costs that have hit Europe in recent months, the PTB asserts that the high cost of fuel is untenable for many individuals who depend on their cars to travel to work. Regarding public transport, the party says that this is not a viable alternative since the prices are too high and, in many cases, there are simply not enough services.
PTB MP Marco Van Hees described the current fuel costs as “unsustainable for workers who already face an explosion in energy costs.” He criticised the Federal Government not only for failing to do more to help less affluent households but also for profiting from the rise in prices through the increased VAT revenue that they bring.
Because VAT (+21% in Belgium) is not capped but increases in proportion to the base price of goods, it has also been increasing as fuel prices go up, further inflating costs for consumers. According to Van Hees, PTB calculations show that the Belgian State gathered €2.18 billion in VAT charges on fuel in 2020. With fuel prices currently 25% higher than at the same time last year, this figure will rise significantly.
In addition to criticising the Federal Government, the PTB points to fossil fuel companies who are also profiting from the prices inflated by the greater demand for fuel. This has lead to colossal profits for multinational oil companies: in the first half of 2021 the PTB calculates profits for Shell to be €7.83 billion, €6.37 for ExxonMobil, €6.71 for BP, and €4.73 for Total.
As prices continue to set new records, oil companies will see these profits grow in the second half of 2021. In light of this, the PTB calls for higher taxes on these highly polluting multinationals rather than burdening consumers with exorbitant costs.