Belgium says rescue would be 'irrational'

13th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said it would be "irrational" for the country to seek help from the eurozone rescue fund to support its debt-hit economy, in an interview published on Thursday.

Asked by French daily La Tribune whether the country, which has not had a government for approaching seven months and has a public debt close to 100 percent of GDP, would need EU aid, Leterme said: "I do not believe so".

"In any case, this would be on an irrational basis. But the question does not arise and I do not wish to respond to hypothetical questions," he said.

"Today we we have the smallest debt growth in the eurozone, and are doing better than the goals pledged to the European authorities. There is no reason why Belgium should be perceived as it is perceived by some players in the market," he said.

Belgium posted on Wednesday better public deficit and debt levels than previously estimated for 2010, a positive development amid market pressure over its marathon political crisis.

The deficit amounted to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product last year, an improvement from a previous estimate of 4.8 percent and down from 6.0 percent in 2009, Leterme said.

The public debt reached 97.2 percent of GDP in 2010, lower than the 100.6 percent estimate that was provided to European Union authorities but still higher than the 2009 figure.

© 2011 AFP

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