Verplaetse started working for the National Bank in 1953, at the study service. In the early 1980s, then Prime Minister Wilfried Martens invited him into his cabinet to help develop the government’s recovery policy. The Belgian economy was then completely exhausted, partly due to the oil crisis during the 1970s. As energy prices rose rapidly, wages also (automatically) increased rapidly. And that crippled our country’s competitive strength. One of the most striking decisions in that recovery policy was the devaluation of the Belgian franc by 8.5 percent in 1982.
In the years that followed, this recovery policy was further elaborated in a small circle, in the country residence of Verplaetse in Poupehan. Present: the prime minister, then ACV union leader Jef Houthuys, the then chairman of the BAC bank Hubert Detremmerie (BAC was the predecessor of Dexia and Belfius) and Verplaetse himself. Poupehan has since been the symbol of backroom politics, where political decisions are made in small circles.