Face-to-face PS-N-VA at Jeudi en Prime: Thomas Dermine and Theo Francken are not on the same wavelength

Face-to-face PS-N-VA at Jeudi en Prime: Thomas Dermine and Theo Francken are not on the same wavelength

Since last week, the federal government has been under fire from critics. It is besides the N-VA which drew by exposing the differences between the budget presented to the government and the figures which had previously been communicated. For the past ten days, many political discussions have revolved around the cost of the reduction in VAT on electricity and gas and an excise reform confirmed by the Prime Minister. Since then, questions remain unanswered. What will the budget deficit be? How much will the reduction in VAT cost? Will this be final? Will taxpayers repay in excise duty what they have earned in VAT?

On these points, the N-VA remains critical. “The problem is that the numbers are not right”says Theo Francken. It points directly to the question of the 6% VAT on energy. “The Prime Minister says that the 6% VAT will cost 1.5 billion euros but that we will increase other taxes because we need budgetary neutrality”explains Theo Francken. “On the other hand, the Socialists say that it is not true, that it is really something for purchasing power, that we are going to reduce VAT and that there will not be budgetary neutrality immediately”adds Theo Francken who wonders who to believe.

For Thomas Dermine, recalls that the VAT was at 6% under the Di Rupo government, that it went back to 21% under the previous government (Michel government). In the current context, the 6% VAT is, for Thomas Dermine, “an essential lever for regaining purchasing power”. Therefore, he adds, “It is intended, next year, to be permanent for as long as Belgian households need it to help their purchasing power”.

As for the cost of this 6% VAT and its possible compensation by excise duties to achieve budgetary neutrality defended by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, for Theo Francken, “it gives the impression that we are giving to people and that we are taking away from elsewhere”. For Thomas Dermine, helping people has a cost. This reduction in VAT, “we can compensate for it by a tax reform that we are calling for, but not necessarily measure by measure, and this is the basis of the misunderstanding today”explains Thomas Dermine. The latter will await the proposals of the Prime Minister. “If the Prime Minister has ideas for compensating for categories of the population who do not need this aid today, we will listen”continues Thomas Dermine.

The budgetary situation therefore opposes N-VA and PS. For Theo Francken, with the looming budget deficit, “we cannot say that we are responsible and have the worst budget in the European Union”.

Thomas Dermine, he defends the deficit planned by the government. “When there are crises, the state must take a stronger role, even if it means going into debt to prevent the country’s socio-economic engine from being broken,” he said. For him, this debt that we dig, in particular by pursuing “environmental” investments does not necessarily handicap future generations.

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