School bonus, jobs rebate in balanced budget
20 July 2006
BRUSSELS — Federal government ministers reached a deal on Thursday over the mid-year budget assessment and the introduction of a school bonus and a jobs rebate.
The government said it had maintained its balanced budget for 2006 and that there will even be a surplus of EUR 100 million.
Budget Minister Freya Van den Bossche said a total of EUR 166 million has been allocated for the new measures this year.
She said EUR 87.6 million will be set aside for the school bonus to be paid to parents in September. The measure is designed to boost purchasing power.
The scheme will take the form of a structural and thus permanent bonus and a temporary payment to be paid this year and in 2007.
It will be paid to parents with school-age children aged between 12 and 18 and will amount to EUR 70. For the age group six to12-year-olds, a bonus of EUR 50 in 2006 and 2007 has been allocated.
The money for the second bonus will be paid from 2008 via an increased child allowance payment for youths aged 18 or older or the age group six to 18.
A total of EUR 76 million has been allocated to increase the limit on tax deductible fixed professional costs, the so-called jobs rebate. The measure will be implemented for all of 2006 via withholding tax.
The government also decided to lift the lowest pension from December by EUR 60 per month. The measure will cost the government EUR 4.7 million. On an annual basis, it will cost EUR 57 million starting from 2007.
After lengthy talks in recent days, the federal government was finally able to reach a deal on Thursday over the mid-year assessment. The EUR 100 million surplus will now be donated to the Zilverfonds or Le Fonds de Vieillissement.
The fund is commissioned with preparing the nation for the costs of the ageing population.
Government ministers had been trying since last Friday to come to an agreement over the second budget assessment and measures to maintain the 2006 Budget balance.
A meeting of inner Cabinet ministers ended at 11.30pm on Wednesday without a deal and the meeting reconvened at 8am on Thursday.
A deal had to be reached on Thursday as it was the last working day for the government before the summer recess.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news