Minister Van Overtveldt establishes priorities: “Boosting competitiveness, safeguarding purchasing power”

5 November 2014

In an interview with the De Standaard newspaper, Minister of Finance Johan Van Overtveldt justified the far-reaching structural measures that the current government, focused on economic recovery, must take if it wants to turn around the negative legacy from the past. “The number one priority must be to boost our Competitiveness The extent to which companies in one country can compete with similar companies in another country. A law came into force in Belgium in 1996 to monitor competitiveness. This stipulates that Belgian salaries may not evolve faster than the average of those in the three neighbouring countries. The Central Economic Council (CEC) performs an annual measurement to see if the objectives have been obtained. competitiveness,” he resolutely states. “We must also safeguard as much purchasing power as possible. We will also do this for the lowest incomes.”

Van Overtveldt realises that some of the announced government measures come across as somewhat blunt. Increasing the general retirement age is one example, even though it will only take effect as of 2025. Since previous governments failed to take the necessary measures, today, there is no alternative.

Proportional efforts
Van Overtveldt thinks that the criticism from the opposition, that the common man is footing the bill for this comprehensive clean-up operation, is unjustified. One third of those employed will be compensated for the loss of purchasing power due to the recovery measures. In the end they will actually be better off. For the others the loss is very limited. What’s more, the efforts demanded are equally distributed. The higher the salary, the greater the effort required. Therefore the strongest shoulders will bear the heaviest burden. The impact of the measures on the lowest earners is frankly positive: their purchasing power will increase.

A substantial increase in the number of jobs
Our opponents focus solely and very one-sidedly on what people will lose. And in the short term this government does indeed require people to make efforts. However, it also offers a clear perspective in the longer term. “Thanks to this policy, we will help between 80,000 and 100,000 people find employment. These are mainly people who are currently unemployed. On balance it results in a massive increase in new purchasing power.” In this sense, you could call it a highly social policy. “The measures do result in some redistribution of income to jobs. It therefore involves a certain amount of solidarity,” says Van Overtveldt.

How valuable did you find this article?

Enter your personal score here
The average score is