Fitch confirms AA rating for Flanders: "Something to be proud of", says Finance minister
Flemish minister of Finance and Budget Matthias Diependaele is pleased that the rating agency Fitch has once again given Flanders an AA rating. "This means we are doing slightly better than the federal government. This remains exceptional and is something to be proud of", the N-VA (Flemish nationalists) minister said on Tuesday in the Flemish Parliament.
Partly because of the Covid-19 crisis, Flanders is building up debts. New figures from the Social and Economic Council of Flanders (SERV) show that between 2019 and 2021, Flanders' debt will have grown by 10 billion euros from 20 to 30 billion euros.
The Flemish government is expecting a debt of 45,8 billion euros in 2024. This would give Flanders a debt ratio of 88,3 percent. The SERV is slightly more optimistic, with an estimated debt of 42,7 billion euros or a debt ratio of 77,2 percent. This is well above the self-imposed debt standard of 65 percent.
"This remains exceptional and is something to be proud of", the Finance minister said on Tuesday in the Flemish Parliament.
An increasing debt ratio is often a reason for rating agencies to adjust the rating. "Our expectation was that the rating agencies would see us as less creditworthy because we exceeded the 65 percent threshold, but that did not happen", says Diependaele.
Last Friday, the rating agency Fitch confirmed the rating of Flanders at AA. This gives Flanders the highest rating of all Belgian regions and communities. Flanders is also one of the few regions in Europe to receive a rating above that of its national government.
Fitch's decision differs from that of credit rating agency Moody's. At the end of last year, Moody's lowered the rating for Flanders from Aa2 to Aa3.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK