The Belgian construction federation Embuild unveiled its demands to the country's politicians on Friday in the run-up to next year's elections. They are calling for more public investment to confirm construction "as a key sector for the future."
Embuild wants all parties to include their requests in their 2024 election programmes and to be part of any coalition agreement. The most pressing demand was that the Federal Government increase public spending.
Currently representing 2.4% of Belgium's GDP, the federation wants public investment to be doubled and reach 5% of Belgium's GDP from 2024 onward. "This is simply necessary if we want to give a new lease of life to our many obsolete homes, hospitals, roads and cycle paths," Embuild's CEO Nico Demeester argued.
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Demeester criticised a recent proposal by Federal Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem to increase VAT rates on renovation and demolition-reconstruction from 6 to 9%. Demeester argued that this measure was "counterproductive" and would cost households an additional €4,000.
Embuild has also demanded that politicians improve the attractiveness of jobs in the construction sector, which is currently beset by chronic shortages and has resulted in "10,000 to 20,000 job vacancies," according to Demeester.
To further combat these shortages, Embuild wants politicians to pay particular attention to digitising and industrialising the construction sector. The federation argued that this would not only allow them to increase productivity but would also narrow the innovation gap between the Belgian construction sector and neighbouring countries.