Belgium put on austerity diet
Wednesday 04 October 1995
Brussels - Belgium, forced into a budgetary straitjacket by the European Union, announced austerity measures intended to save 100bn francs (pounds 2bn) in order to stay on course for the EU single currency.
With new taxes and social-security cuts, the Prime Minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, plans to reduce the 1996 budget deficit to 3 per cent of gross domestic product, a strict requirement for joining a core of EU nations that plan to forge ahead with a single currency in 1999.
The centre-left government slapped new taxes on petrol, and increased VAT and taxes on savings and some pensions. Health and welfare spending were cut.
The budget also foresees stepping up a fight against tax fraud and plans to sell of some government properties - including the embassy in Tokyo.
"We are taking today a decisive step, because the reduction of the deficit to 3 per cent is indispensable for our integration into the European Union and to reduce our debt," Mr Dehaene told parliament.
After spending freely in the 1970s and early 1980s, Belgium has amassed the biggest overall debt in the EU as a percentage of GDP, and has been trying for years to curb it. Mr Dehaene said the overall debt reduction was imperative but it was still expected to stand at 131.1 per cent of GDP next year, only marginally down from a projected 134.2 per cent in 1995.
In an effort to stimulate job- creation, Mr Dehaene also said the government will waive employer contributions for salaries up to 60,000 francs (pounds 1,350) a month.
The government hopes the move will cut the number of jobless by 27,000 in 1996, after an expected rise of 1,300 in 1995. Some 630,000 people or 14.9 per cent of the population were without work in August.
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Rape threats, death threats and a police investigation after video poking fun at an Islamic Party in Malaysia goes viral
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
Jeremy Clarkson to become 'special adviser on transport' to David Cameron
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...