De Croo cautious on extending social tariffs, as Belgian budget deficit grows

De Croo cautious on extending social tariffs, as Belgian budget deficit grows
Credit: Belga

Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, was cautious on Sunday when speaking to VRT about further extending VAT reduction on gas and electricity and continuing social tariffs to help lower-income households.

The current measures to help protect the population from soaring energy prices include social tariffs, reduced excise duties on petrol and diesel, lower VAT on electricity and gas to 6%, and financial compensation for heating oil.

These measure are for now in place until the end of March 2023.

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The Prime Minister began on Sunday the traditional bilateral talks with his Deputy Prime Ministers with a view to drawing up the 2023 budget.

He is expected in the Chamber on 11 October for the general policy speech and, four days later, he must submit next year’s budget to the European Commission.

De Croo’s caution to further extend the measures, stems from concerns of a growing federal budget deficit, forecast to reach 23 billion euros, or 4% of the GDP next year.

The Prime Minister is looking for a coordinated European effort to address the underlining inflationary pressures.

Questioned in several local media, the President of Belgium's Socialist Party, Paul Magnette, argued however in favour of maintaining the 6% reduction in VAT on gas and electricity, as well as extending social tariff until the end of 2023, or even until the end of 2024.

The president of Vooruit (The Flemish social democratic party), Conner Rousseau, said that his party was still defending a reduction in VAT to 6%. He also considers it necessary to reform the social tariff to cover a greater number of citizens.

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