Walloon Budget Minister Jean-Luc Crucke (Mouvement réformateur, MR) on Friday defended the budget presented the day before by the regional executive, and showing a deficit of 435 million euros in 2020.
Speaking on Belgian radio and TV, BELRTL, Crucke noted that there were many “good” deficits, arguing that “it’s a bit like cholesterol, there is the good one and there is the bad.”
“The main thing is knowing how to earmark the deficit” and, in Wallonia’s case that will go to investments with two priorities: “fighting climate change; and innovation, technology,” he said.” Of course, there are efforts that need to be made” but the idea is not to constantly maintain a deficit, Crucke added.
On Thursday Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (Parti Socialiste) presented the result of Wallonia’s budget talks as “a transition budget respecting our commitments, including that of a return to a balanced budget in 2024.”
The effort will begin immediately, Crucke said on Friday. “Up until the month of March, all organisations that are not from Wallonia but depend on it (…) will be screened, expenditure by expenditure, to see where and how the money should best be invested,” he explained. “It’s likely that we’ll be able to find some money” at the end of that optimisation exercise.
Wallonia’s government indicated on Thursday its intention to ask the European Union to activate its flexibility clause, which enables it to “de-parameterise” a series of investments in climate and new technology.
For Crucke, this is self-evident. “If Europe refuses, it contradicts itself” since it has been communicating on the importance of investment for growth, he noted, adding: “We are going to present a file at the federal level that proves we are within Europe’s guidelines.”