Expatica news

Wallonia in ‘decline’ thanks to politicians

9 March 2005

BRUSSELS – The vast majority of Walloon business executives think the region is in bad economic shape and that the politicians are to blame, according to a survey out on Wednesday.

Brussels senator Alain Destexhe, a member of the centre-right Mouvement Reformateur (MR), was criticised earlier this week for his remarks that the Walloon government was misleading people when it said the economy was improving.

Even members of his own MR party condemned him for stating: “The GDP per inhabitant in Wallonia is so low that no region in the whole of north-western Europe has such a low score.”

However, managing directors and managers of companies in the region have backed Destexhe wholeheartedly.

In a survey carried out by the economic magazine Trends-Tendances 62 percent stated Wallonia was indeed in economic decline.

The magazine sent a list of questions to 2,700 bosses in Wallonia and Brussels and got replies from 203 companies in Wallonia and 99 in the capital.

More blamed the ruling socialists in Wallonia than anyone else. Some 70 percent of the Brussels managers thought Elio Di Rupo’s PS party was responsible for crippling the economy.

Although in the region itself Walloons were less harsh on their politicians, there were still 40 percent who blamed the PS, compared to just 19 percent who blamed the economic climate and 18 percent who named “others”.

The vast majority of Walloon businessmen and women (72 percent) thought Destexhe was right to speak out about what he saw as the real economic situation in the region. More than half (55 percent) also said his own party should have supported him.

Some 60 percent of those running businesses fear that if Wallonia doesn’t start to catch up with more prosperous Flanders the country’s unity could be threatened.

However, three-quarters of them are confident that Wallonia can catch up.

The solutions for those surveyed are very similar to Destexhe’s views.

Some 79 percent said the government’s plans, the so-called “contract for the future” were insufficient, and an overwhelming majority thinks the public sector is too dominant in the region (86 percent).

Their biggest priorities for improving the economy are investment in education (18 percent), better public government (17 percent) and an improvement in workers’ knowledge of foreign languages (14 percent). Classic means for boosting economies such as lowering taxes and cutting administration were rated lower down in the survey.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news