Negotiations on the renewal of a cashier contract between the Walloon Region and Belfius Bank are "technical and not political," Walloon Budget Minister Adrien Dolimont (MR) said on Monday.
The minister was fielding questions on the issue from several majority and opposition parliamentarians MPs at a session of Wallonia's parliamentary committee on budgetary and financial matters.
Much has been written in recent days over the contract, which expires this year and is normally extended for several years. Belfius wants to extend the contract this time for a maximum of two years, until 2024. As Wallonia's principal bank, it views neither the region's financial situation nor the advance of the leftist labour party, PVDA, as reassuring.
It is no coincidence that it wants the extension to last only until 2024. That would enable the bank to assess how the next government can eliminate the region's rising debt ratio.
Minister Dolimont emphasised on Monday that the discussions were confidential but recalled that this was not a new contract.
"We are aware of the situation," he said regarding the state of Wallonia's public finances. "There is a strategy, and it entails that structural and additional savings must be made at the rate of €150 million per budget year," he stressed.
"That strategy was applied in 2022 and will also be applied in 2023 and 2024," the minister noted.
"I understand that people are concerned about the financial situation of Wallonia," he added. "This situation is the result of the crises of recent years. Yet we have set a resolute course. We have the resources and there are margins in the budget to do something about the situation."
Wallonia is heading for a public debt of €50 billion by 2030, and the state bank is running a significant financial risk since it has done a huge amount of lending to the Walloon Region.