Brussels (Brussels Morning) “Our region is sick and then I’m not talking about Covid,” Alexia Bertrand, MR group leader, kicked off the debate. She warned that the region’s debt is growing as expenditures grow faster than revenues year after year. “The difference between income and expenditure is becoming structural,” said Bertrand. In addition, the 2022 budget includes 72.2 million from the auctioning of emission rights and 24.7 million from European aid to offset the consequences of Brexit, while these revenues are not yet certain.
According to Bertrand, by not approving the 2020 accounts, the Court of Audit proves that the government’s promises are built on loose sand. She warned that the region’s rating is in danger of falling if the government does not tighten its accounting rules soon. Despite the end of the corona support measures, employment will remain stable in 2022, but the decline in certain sectors is compensated by more government jobs and more self-employed.
Dark red budget
N-VA party leader Cieltje Van Achter noted that the Brussels government will end 2021 just as it started: with a dark red budget and a lot of internal bickering.
Van Achter also denounced disagreements within the government, which led to a rough patch. She referred to Défi, who threatened to leave the government on the issue of headscarves at STIB, the attempts to form an alternative majority around the Uber drivers, Minister Clerfayt, who did not find a majority in the government for slaughter without stunning. She feared that next year “will be more of the same: more debt, more downtime, more arguing.”
Her group colleague Gilles Verstraeten pointed out that the budget of the GGC (Community Community Commission) is not transparent due to a lack of policy papers from the various agencies. He also noted that, according to the Court of Audit, a provision of 94 million cannot simply be registered for the corona policy.
An ask for urban reform
Dominiek Lootens-Stael (Vlaams Belang) strongly criticized the bickering within the Brussels government, which, as a result, like the federal government, does not pursue a policy. For Vlaams Belang, Brussels “does not need a state reform, but an urban reform.” The Brussels region must stop passing the bill to others, he said.
For Françoise De Smedt (PTB-PVDA), the Brussels government is playing the savings card: 105 million euros cut and 140 million euros in investment postponed. She particularly hit on housing policy – the waiting list for social housing has grown to 50,800 families by 2021, and the number of vacant social housing has risen to 4,802.
According to BRUZZ, while a quarter of households are struggling to pay their energy bills and prices are soaring, the Brussels government allows water prices to rise for three in four people by 2022.