Belgian government reaches social and economic accord
The accord comprises measures to increase buying power, lower tax burden, boost competitively for companies and preclude social exclusion.14 July 2008
BELGIUM- The inner cabinet of Prime Minister Yves Leterme reached an accord late Saturday evening on a social/economic long-range plan (until 2011).
The social/economic accord includes concrete measures in areas including lowering the tax burden, boosting the economy and employment, sustainable development, and combating poverty.
The measures are aimed at increasing the competitive edge of the economy and increasing the social protection of specific groups, for example the retired.
"We are also working on lowering the tax burden and wage costs," says the prime minster. He added: "These measures will have a positive effect on people's purchasing power."
The accord forms part of a comprehensive accord that Leterme intends to present to the Chamber of Deputies on 15 July.
Leterme was due to leave for the European Summit in Paris, but decided not to go in order to have time for further negotiations before his 15 July deadline.
The difficult negotiations regarding further state reforms and communal issues are still on the table.
Regarding the split of a Brussels-area electoral district (Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde) a number of proposals are on the table. No significant headway has been made here. A steering group that was to meet specifically to discuss this issue has not materialised.
What measures are included in the accord?
The inner cabinet has decided that 40 percent of the budgetary means will be spent on fiscal measures, 40 percent on social measures and 20 percent on other things, including safety and environmental measures.
In the fiscal arena the government will increase the tax-free minimum. Tax-free minimum will be raised by EUR 1,000 starting with people who fall into lower and middle income brackets. The tax rate of 30 percent will be gradually brought back to 25 percent.
In the social arena, raising the pensions is a priority. The smallest and oldest pensions will be adapted first. The government also intends to increase the school bonus for parents progressively to equal a 13th month of child allowance.
Other measures have bearing on boosting employment and regarding people with a handicap.
[flandersnews.be / Expatica]