September Declaration details surplus budget and spending

Summary

Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois has delivered the annual September Declaration, detailing budget priorities and other factors affecting the region

Setting priorities

The annual September Declaration by Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois gave the first details of a budget agreement for 2018. The declaration, delivered to the Flemish parliament on Monday, is traditionally when the government sets out its policy priorities at the start of the new parliamentary year.

Bourgeois revealed that the government has an estimated surplus for 2018 of €125 million, thanks to strict budget discipline in previous years. The new budget agreement also contained an alternative to the controversial energy tax introduced by former energy minister Annemie Turtelboom.

The energy tax was overturned by the Constitutional Court in June this year. The new budget reduces the tax from €100 a year for the average household to about €9.

The government had already announced that the structural balance of the budget sought by Bourgeois (pictured) has been achieved and will now be affected by two items of exceptional expenditure in 2018: spending relating to the transfer of certain powers to the regions and cost of the Oosterweel transport connection in Antwerp.

The declaration also included a number of announcements regarding government spending in 2018: an increase of €12.7 million on pre-school education; €5 million for technical equipment for technical and professional schools; €90 million extra for health care and welfare; €12 million extra for the social economy, including sheltered workshops; and €610 million mobility, schools, welfare infrastructure, and research and development.

Flanders is set for recorded growth of 1.8% this year, Bourgeois said, slightly better than the 1.7% for the country as a whole. Unemployment is down, while 73% of the workforce have jobs.

Consumer confidence is higher now than before the financial crisis of 2009, while exports last year topped €300 billion, making Flanders the world’s 13th biggest exporter. \ AH

Photo: Laurie Dieffembacq/BELGA

This article was updated on 26 September

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Government of Flanders

Belgium is a federal state with several regional governments. The northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders is governed by the Flemish government, which was created when the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community joined forces in 1980. A minister-president presides over the government of Flanders, and Brussels is the capital city.
Competences - The government of Flanders is responsible for the economy, foreign trade, health care, energy, housing, agriculture, environmental concerns, public works and transport, employment policy, culture, education and science and innovation. Flanders also has the power to sign international treaties in these competencies.
Sole legislator - The powers of the Flemish government and of the federal government do not overlap. Therefore, only one government serves as legislator for each policy area. Flemish laws are called decrees. Decrees apply in co-ordination with federal laws.
Official holiday - 11 July is the official holiday of the Flemish Community, in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Kortrijk on 11 July 1302, when Flemings defeated the army of the French king. Flanders’ official anthem is “De Vlaamse Leeuw” (The Flemish Lion).
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million people live in the Flemish Region.

5

provinces constitute the Flemish Region: West Flanders, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg.

5

number of years for which the Flemish Parliament is elected. Its elections coincide with those of the European Parliament.