Budget balanced in middle of the night

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An accord was reached early Tuesday morning which balances the federal budget for 2008

Following marathon talks of 17 hours, an accord was reached early Tuesday morning which balances the federal budget for 2008.

The marathon session started at 1 pm Monday afternoon. The negotiations were tough. An extra €300 million in expenditures were earmarked, of which €200 million for social benefits.

A point of heated debate was the notional interest deduction for companies. This is a measure which gives companies a tax break when they invest their own money back into their company. In the end it was agreed that the measure would remain intact, but that there would be more control against violations and fraud.

The sale of government buildings was also on the agenda. The negotiators decided that some empty buildings could be sold. This will yield €70 million.

Measures to increase purchasing power

After the marathon meeting, the negotiators announced that €340 million worth of measures would be taken to increase middle and low incomes.

The lowest disability benefits and the minimum pension will be increased by 2% from July 1. The threshold for how much retired people can earn on the side will also be increased- by 25%.

Electrabel must help foot the bill

The negotiators are counting on the energy sector to contribute to the balanced budget. Climate Minister Paul Magnette (Francophone socialist) is going to negotiate a contribution of €250 million from the sector- especially from Electrabel. Electrabel is making enormous profits from the nuclear power stations.

Stimulate employment

The government expects that 15,000 unemployed people will find jobs this year. This would benefit the treasury to the tune of €300 million and reduce social security expenditures.


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