Work on the budget started up again in Lambermont at 10am on Sunday. Lambermont is the Prime Minister’s functional residence. As announced earlier in the week, the Federal government is looking to save around 3 billion euros to keep the budget in line with European commitments. This was confirmed by the Deputy Prime Ministers Didier Reynders and Kris Peeters when they arrived.
Where the savings will come from is not yet clear. There will have to be extra effort spent on healthcare, admits Health Minister Maggie De Block. She said “it wasn’t possible otherwise”. The conjectural provision of 1 billion euros will no doubt be lowered, due to a more precise overview the government has of the budget situation.
There will be structural reforms. The tax paid by businesses will also be on the agenda. Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt, wants to progressively lower the tax from 33.99% to 20% by getting rid of deductions, including notional interest.
The government also wants to talk about flexible working hours and revising the 1996 business competition law, which sets out salary moderation. This comes after the failure of the Group 10 discussions. He spoke to the Social Partners about this on Thursday. The Union bank is waiting to see how much leeway will be given to social concertation. It warned the executive powers against any desire to make workers put in more effort.
This week, the Flemish press spoke about the liberal’s ideas about unemployment. The Open Vld President Gwendolyn Rutten called for an increased digressivity of allocations and a check of all unemployed person’s revenue.
The vice-Prime Minister and Employment Minister Kris Peeters has not voiced his opinion on these propositions. He has shown himself to be sceptical. “We can ask ourselves what some propositions will mean. The number of unemployed people has fallen compared to 2014, and that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t create problems where there are none. Our aim is not to push people into poverty”.