Belgium's PM-to-be targets 2012 budget deficit cuts

28th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Belgian prime minister-in-waiting Elio Di Rupo is drawing up a budget for next year designed to meet a deficit target of 2.8 percent of GDP, the Socialist leader said on Wednesday.

"The 2012 budget must be responsible and rigorous," he said. "That means substantial reductions in public spending, some tax increases, a tougher fight against all forms of fraud and initiatives to support our citizens' purchasing power."

French-speaking Di Rupo said he will start the financial planning next week, without waiting for the outcome of negotiations involving Flemish counterparts among eight political parties aiming to create a new coalition government led by him by mid-October.

He said the goal was to meet the deficit target set by outgoing caretaker premier Yves Leterme for 2012 "and to take the necessary decisions to reach a balanced budget by 2015," in line with Belgium's commitments to European Commission auditors.

Without giving figures to quantify the "difficult" decisions he said need to be taken, Belgian media said Di Rupo has to fill a hole in the country's budget of at least eight billion euros to meet next year's target.

A member of the debt-stricken eurozone, Belgium has in recent weeks accelerated moves to end a political impasse going back to June 2010 elections after warnings that its credit rating could be downgraded.

The country's debts are among the highest in the shared currency area, at nearly 100 percent of GDP.

© 2011 AFP

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