Debate on phantom powers passed on to work groups

28th March 2012, Comments 0 comments

During the recent budgetary control the federal government decided to transfer 250 million euros in phantom powers to the federated states. These include community and regional powers, which until now have been financed at federal level. When the inter-ministerial Finance and Budgetary conference took place for the first time last night, all the ministers of Finance and Budget were present, including Flemish Minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V. The debate ended quite soon and shortly afterwards it was decided that six technical working groups will continue the deliberations, with each group focusing on one of the six powers the federal government has decided to transfer to the regions. The six issues total up to more than the proposed 250 million euros. The key issue is the bigger contribution of the federated states towards the pensions of their own civil servants, which amounts to almost 300 million, plus an additional 13 million for a benefit paid to the civil servants who are a member of a trade union. The federal government further calls for a regional contribution to Europe and 90 million euros in financing towards university development cooperation. Traditionally working groups are involved to let a dossier mature and buy some time. Once they have all completed their preparatory work, the ministers can meet in a new conference to debate from a broader platform. One of the demands coming from Flanders is the acceleration of the collection of inheritance taxes and a solution to the repayment of registration fees. The Constitutional Court recently ruled that the transferability of registration fees will also apply to buyers of a new home with land that is eligible to the VAT system. Talks will further revolve around future efforts expected from the regions to attain the Belgian budgetary objectives. Increasing the playing field should make way for a compromise. Neither the Flanders nor the Walloon government is willing to simply accept the 250  million euros proposed by the federal government. “The 250 million is a target that has been set by the federal government, not by us. We have our own budghet,” says Flemish Budget Minister Philippe Muyters N-VA. “The contested amount was not a certainty yesterday, and neither is it today,” federal Deputy Prime Minister Steven Vanackere CD&V coaxed yesterday. “But I did notice a general willingness to reach an agreement.”

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