The Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, did not advance Thursday in the Chamber on the continuation of the government’s work on purchasing power after the submission of a report drawn up by a group of experts. However, he draws several conclusions from this, in particular the fact that urgent measures to protect households have been taken and that, overall, in Belgium, purchasing power is well protected, and that it has even been stabilized, unlike the most European countries.
The final report is expected by the end of the month. In the meantime, and in parallel, the government will continue its work on the orientations that are open. “The experts must objectify the leads, it is up to the politicians to make the decisions and to establish the priorities. But the measures to be taken urgently to protect people, we have taken them”, underlined Mr. De Croo. A section of the report focuses on the reforms to be carried out on the labor market in the name of the principle that employment protects purchasing power. “We must address purchasing power in relation to the shortage of jobs”underlined the head of government, calling for the abandonment of ideology when it comes to solving this problem. “This report encourages us to pursue our policy”, he added. The debate in the House came days before a national protest for purchasing power organized by the unions. In the majority, the socialists repeated their impatience to take further measures. The PS is awaiting the convening of a government meeting devoted to this theme. “On Monday, the workers are in the streets at the call of the unions. When are you going to convene a council of ministers on purchasing power and the social emergency?” asked Patrick Prévot. The Prime Minister’s lack of response disappointed him.
The MR joined the Prime Minister’s plea on employment. Some of the avenues of the experts agree with him, including the suggestion to think about harmonizing the chronology of the automatic indexation of wages so that all workers benefit from it at the same time. For the liberals, it is also obvious that the reform under the legislature of the law of 1996 on the wage margin, object of the claim of the trade unions but also of the socialists and the ecologists, is not called into question. “Can we consider the debate closed?” asked Christophe Bombled. The report also focuses on the ecological transition of the economy. Environmentalists see it “particularly interesting tracks”, according to Gilles Vanden Burre who called for “sealing agreements”.
The opposition, for its part, expressed concern about the time taken by the government to agree on measures and what it sees as a lack of perspective as inflation continues. “You spoke for six minutes and you said nothing,” pointed out François De Smet (DéFI) who is calling for structural reforms. “The great promises of the parties of your majority are coming out, but they lead to nothing”, chained Catherine Fonck (Les Engagés). The N-VA found that the experts’ report had apparently failed to reconcile views within Vivaldi. For the Flemish nationalists, the government is facing an impasse because, financially, it no longer has any room for manoeuvre. The PTB meanwhile warned the government against the tens of thousands of demonstrators who will march on June 20.