Flanders' debt increases to 5.6 billion euro this year
This year, the consolidated Flemish debt will amount to 38.9 billion euro, which is an increase of 5.6 billion euro or almost 17% in one year. The ambition to limit the Flemish debt to the so-called Flemish debt standard of 65% of the income will not be achieved. This is according to the Court of Audit's analysis of the Flemish budget adjustment for 2022.
"The manageability of the debt is a point of attention", the Court of Audit says. The budgetary watchdog also criticises "the lack of budgetary coordination between the Belgian authorities".
Initially, the Flemish government aimed for a deficit of 3.3 billion euro. That deficit was subsequently adjusted to 3.5 billion euro, but rising inflation has meant that even that adjustment has been overtaken by reality.
For example, the budget adjustment was still based on an inflation rate of 5.5%, whereas the Federal Planning Bureau now speaks of 8.1% inflation. According to the Court of Audit, that difference would generate 573.5 million euro in extra income for Flanders alone.
Flemish debt mountain
The Court of Audit does seem to be concerned about the evolution of the Flemish debt mountain. The consolidated debt has increased by 16.8% in one year to nearly 39 billion euro. The growth of the debt is mainly due to the budget deficit, the financing of the recovery plan and social housing.
It is not the first time the Court of Audit has expressed its concern about the evolution of the Flemish debt. In its report, the budgetary watchdog also criticizes "the lack of budgetary coordination between the Belgian authorities". The list of files on which the various authorities do not agree on the distribution of revenues or costs seems to be getting longer and longer. The Court of Audit listed these files.
There is no cooperation agreement on the distribution of revenue from the Brexit fund (381.7 million euro), emissions trading (430 million euro), 5G licences (39 million euro) and the NIHDI claim (489.4 million euro). Conversely, there is also no agreement on the contribution of the states to expenditure on vaccination and prevention (302 million euro and 124 million euro) and the distribution of the European recycling or plastic contribution for plastic waste (156 million euro).
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