The Flemish budget deficit should amount to 6,5 billion euros this year, according to latest estimates by the office of Finance Minister Matthias Diependaele.
Initially the Flemish Government had announced a projected deficit of 432 million euros in what was to have been the only legislative year in which the budget was not expected to be balanced.
The crisis linked to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has deepened the hole: after the first weeks of confinement, a budget assessment done in early April by the Government came up with a 4,14 billion-euro deficit, with the cost of measures taken by the Government to cushion the effect of the crisis estimated at 2,5 billion euros, based on a lockdown extended to 3 May.
Since then Flanders has had to review its accounting, and it now expects a deficit of 6,5 billion euros.
The new estimate takes into account forecasts published on Friday by the Planning Office, which show the Belgian economy contracting by 10.6% this year.
It also includes a revision of federal allocations that will deprive Flanders of 2,1 billion euros.
This revision could, in principle, be done in 2021 but the minister did not see any need to postpone the problem to next year, according to his office.