Politics

Today big exam for De Croo and Vandenbroucke, meanwhile liberals want to quickly arrange ‘rich tax’

A lot is at stake for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) and Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit). Will they get the communication correct tonight, and the message clear, in what may be the most important sharpening, since the second corona wave washed over Belgium? The run-up is neat, the Consultation Committee will soon have to involve the Flemish government in particular: it does not want too drastic measures. Meanwhile, in the wings, an important dossier is being worked on: the capital tax must be regulated, according to the liberals.

In the news: Soon at 2 pm the Consultation Committee.

The details: Afterwards, it promises an important communication appointment.

  • It’s a few moments that set a government. This is also the case with De Croo I, who has just been working for two weeks now:
    • Prior to: the casting. A surprising operation, which gave a lot of credit, with a combination of new faces and experience.
    • A government statement. Neatly done, not too long, no shopping list. No mistakes.
    • A first time in the TV studios as prime minister, correct, maybe a little too enthusiastic at first with Gudula Guardians.
    • Then the crisis approach: suddenly, surprisingly, a Consultation Committee, the new decision-making body now, for which De Croo and Vandenbroucke set the tone for the first time and received a lot of good points.
  • But where the figures were bad a week ago, but not yet dramatic, it is today all hands on deck. And so De Croo, Vandenbroucke and also Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) will soon have to clarify matters.
  • Remarkable here: it leaks much less in the run than with the Wilmès II government, if only because the “redundant” level of the Security Council has been eliminated. That cuts out a much larger number of people who are in the know.
  • So the build-up to that Consultation Committee is good: there is not much noise on the line yet. Yesterday, the Prime Minister in the Chamber also prepared the terrain: he had a number of questions from Vicky Reynaert (Vooruit), Frieda Gijbels (N-VA), and Marianne Verhaert (Open Vld), all of whom were drawn back with their question. their magazine (new President Eliane Tillieux (PS) is not very strict yet, normally you are not allowed to read anything).
    • “We are at 470 cases per 100,000, in March they spoke of a record with 180 cases per 100,000, so we are almost three times as high,” De Croo described. “On the first wave it was all far away, now each of us knows someone who is infected. ”
    • “It rises exponentially. Yesterday we visited hospitals in Antwerp and Brussels: people are at a tipping point, ”De Croo stated. “Unfortunately, that situation is everywhere. We have to realize what that means. That we have to tell people that the ordinary services will be delayed. ”
    • “That is why we now have to take the necessary new measures quickly. (…) People are willing to accept and follow those stricter rules. The basic rule is that they are clear and simple measures. ”
    • “Economy and health are not opposed in this pandemic. You cannot build a healthy economy with unhealthy people. Healthcare is the basis of a healthy economy. ”

The essence: How far will they go?

  • With a very high infection rate in French-speaking Belgium, and the hefty measures taken by Emmanuel Macron in France, there is especially pressure on the French-speaking side to intervene firmly. A complete closure of the catering industry, a curfew, it’s all on the table. Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) would also be on that stricter line.
  • A sign on the wall: French-language education has already extended the autumn holidays, until November 11. The pressure from the unions there was too great on Education Minister Caroline Désir (PS). Flanders does not follow.
  • From the Flemish government opposes this: there they want to give as many life opportunities as possible to the catering industry, in order to possibly remain open. It is in the meantime that a balance will have to be found in the Consultation Committee.
  • Meanwhile lies the puzzle is clear: reducing cuddly contacts to one person, and especially making teleworking compulsory, that will undoubtedly come through. The rest must be filled in, and is also related to the discussion about the so-called barometer.
  • He will scale the corona spread into five levels, one being the least, and five a complete lockdown. This barometer is rolled out, but then one must immediately determine what level one is now. Everything indicates a level four, which is already very strict.

Politically very interesting to follow: That rich tax must come quickly.

  • “We go don’t drag that file along, that really makes no sense. Better to arrange that now, then we are done with it. ” It is a simple reasoning, which is made at the top of the Open Vld: the rich tax, which is also included in the coalition agreement, and a hobbyhorse of the socialists, better be tackled immediately.
  • That the tax is not pleasant for the liberals is an understatement. Among other Jong Vld honored the liberal accession congress that such a tax will certainly not come. But in the meantime it has become clear that a political deal has been reached on this.
  • In an interview with Le Soir last week, MR Chairman Georges-Louis Bouchez did not mince words: the liberals had accepted that there would be a new securities tax. In concrete terms, this concerns a tax on transactions of more than 1 million euros, which would be deducted immediately at source. In this way, a property register is not necessary at all: a much greater fear of the liberals.
  • “We don’t want to turn this into a file like CD&V had in the Swedish government, with that talk about “fair taxation”. If you drag it along for years, it will be bad for the coalition. So it is better to arrange this at the start of the legislature ”, as can be heard on Melsensstraat.
  • That message ties in neatly with what the socialists want. This week, Paul Magnette (PS) gave an unmistakable shot ahead, in L’Echo. There the PS chairman said openly “that there must now be a proposal for such a rich tax“.
  • Magnette’s wish list in terms of taxation is not insignificant, as we learn:
    • A “strong shoulder tax” or “rich tax”. For the PS you can do the resuscitation of the securities tax even if it was quashed by the Constitutional Court in the previous term of office.
    • A European minimum tax on multinationals.
    • A CO2 tax, also regulated on a European level.
    • A so-called tobin tax, a tax on large financial transactions, also via Europe if necessary.
  • The PS boss immediately addressed the new Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V): “The principle is that the richest 1 percent contribute to provide additional funding for health care. The Minister of Finance must find a formula that offers the most legal stability. I’m not going to play a minister, he has to come up with a proposal. He’s speeding up, because the new levy should start to generate income from 2021. ”
  • There are some securities tax two big reservations to make.
    • The Constitutional Court overturned the securities tax because it did not apply to registered shares. These are shares that are not listed, but of family businesses, of bakers and butchers, or larger companies that are not listed on the stock exchange. That immediately becomes the question: does that category of shares also appear in that category? If it depends on the liberals, probably not: then you will go irrevocably burden a large part of the Flemish SME fabric.
    • Is it realistic that a transaction tax like this one, for purchases or sales of more than 1 million euros, will actually yield 300 million euros? Many specialists doubt this: it is not easy to avoid circumventing that tax.
  • Anyway, with the Liberals who also want to push the accelerator, lies the ball now completely in the court of the new finance minister.

Another annoying tax file: The Brussels city toll.

  • Another file in which Open Vld may choke: that Brussels city toll. As noted earlier, the leadership of the Flemish liberals is concerned about the new tax that the Brussels government wants to introduce, a tax on the capital, which is half a billion must yield, and can cost up to about 2,500 euros for a commuter.
  • Flemish Minister of Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) immediately tweeted clearly about it: “I want to give the consultations with the Brussels-Capital Region every opportunity. But let me be clear: the Flemish commuter should not be discriminated against. ”
  • Peeters already contacted her Brussels colleague Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) last week. But the greens in the Brussels government are determined to take that tax, which is included in the Brussels coalition agreement, enter.
  • Annoying, because Open Vld is part of that Brussels team, with Sven Gatz. Which points out that nothing has yet been agreed on the terms of the tax. But the liberals can miss any association with the tax like a toothache.
  • And there both N-VA and CD&V have smelled blood.
    • Because from the Flemish government, the Flemish Minister of Finance Matthias Diependaele (N-VA) immediately launched the offensive: “This is a pestilence for the Flemish. Every day 80,000 Flemish commuters drive their car into Brussels. A teacher who teaches in Brussels, but does not reach the location by public transport, will soon have to pay an extra 100 euros per month. ”
    • But CD&V was hardly inferior. Flemish party leader Peter Van Rompuy (CD&V) lashed out hard: “The parties who talk about cooperative federalism are not embarrassed to introduce a purely discriminatory toll. 10 euros per trip to Brussels and back. Do the math. We will use all means to oppose this toll wallHe stated.
  • The step to invoke a conflict of interest from the Flemish government has not yet been taken. That makes little sense, because the Brussels government has not yet officially announced anything. But it seems it is already clear that there will be a major clash about this.
  • Because the greens, very strong in the polls in the capitalhave little appetite to admit in Brussels. This was once again evident from the answer of Federal Deputy Prime Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), who received critical questions in the Chamber about the new Brussels tax, from N-VA, but also PVDA who accused “that the working people of Wemmel and Zaventem, van Nivelles who go to work in Brussels, will be subject to a heavy burden ”.
  • “I think so it is very good that Brussels is going to tackle the problem of traffic congestion that paralyzes our capital. Some facts: Brussels residents lose 195 hours a year in traffic jams, transport is responsible for 60 percent of NOx emissions and 30 percent of greenhouse gases. Not to mention the noise and visual nuisance these cars cause. Moreover, 50 percent of Brussels residents do not have a car, “Gilkinet fiercely defended his Brussels colleagues, as deputy prime minister of a coalition that includes the same Open Vld and CD&V, and then added” that the federal government has not yet commented. indicates a file that is only in the project stage. ”
  • For the time being no escalation yet so, but a file that could lead to annoying images, also for Vivaldi.
  • Because also there is a lot of grumbling from Wallonia: there are also quite a few commuters who will soon be taxed. The MR, who are not in the Brussels government, is preparing for strong resistance. Willy Borsus, MR leader in the Walloon government, already gave a shot in front of the bow. But the PS in Wallonia is not exactly keen on the plan either.

Well noted: A striking statement by the Brussels Minister of Health Alain Maron (Ecolo).

  • Normally you would like the docile cdH, which is in opposition, but is obediently everywhere in the COVID crisis, do not expect any stampede. But in the Brussels Parliament, it became too much for Céline Fremault (cdH), after a statement by Alain Maron, the Ecolo minister who had already done solid communication in the corona crisis.
  • “It is not advisable to just do more tests, just to do more tests. Firstly, because in this way the testing centers are uselessly occupied by multiple tests for one person. But also, above all, the impact of the tests on the environment. Those tests really do cause a serious mass of wasteMaron stated in the Brussels Parliament.
  • Fremault then exploded: “Excuse me, but that’s really unheard of. I’m afraid I should get angry. But today we really don’t have a choice. And if one has to test ten times, one has to test ten times. And linking an ecological cost to that, that is really unheard of today. We are on the brink of disaster. ”

Worth reading: An interesting blog post about the cabinets.

  • The Ghent department of political sciences comes with some interesting background and reservations about the composition and recruitment of the new cabinets.
  • This is closely monitored in the Rue de la Loi: by whom do ministers surround themselves and make them already ideological choices in, among other things, the selection of their private secretaries. For outsiders a far-from-my-bed show, but something that really matters in the world.
  • The department has come up with a number of interesting observations about how cabinets work:
    • Only 55 percent of cabinet positions go to substantive employees. Managers take 9 percent of the jobs, while 13 percent focus on “selling” the minister or secretary of state in the right way, through communication. And very striking: 23 percent of the jobs are for “administration and support”.
    • Being women still under-represented, certainly among cabinet members with political-strategic positions such as policy advisers and managers.
    • Recruitment happens often very informal: “Headhunting” within the own network accounts for about 40 percent of all cabinet members. Ministers then personally take over the selection of cabinet members who apply: 40 percent are recruited in this way, often from within the party. Only 20 percent are recruited after an interview with a more extensive jury or a procedure involving multiple selection rounds.
  • About the transparency of cabinets, that one anyway federally consist of more than 800 people who work with tax money, one is very critical:
    • “Their operation remains closed to the public. So it is no coincidence that they fall outside the public domain. Researchers rely on the goodwill of the leaders of a cabinet, who at the end of the term of office freely determine what information is kept. ”
    • “There are not enough rules to prevent conflicts of interest among ex-cabinet members. After their departure, cabinet members can immediately start working at companies or institutions for which they have just written new rules. On the one hand, this makes it possible to render a service to a future employer in exchange for an interesting contract. On the other hand, ex-cabinet members can use the direct line with their ex-colleagues to influence government policy as lobbyists. ”
  • Finally, the researchers come back to it the increasing number of cabinet members in the De Croo government. Insiders point out that two factors kept that number from falling:
    • The MR really had one gigantic staff problem, with far too many employees from seven cabinets who had to be placed somewhere. They really didn’t want to shrink much anymore.
    • And the Greens were apparently also very wary of not being able, in their Deputy Prime Minister departments, to properly monitor all the files in the government. To the mistakes of the first, naive, purple-green period, they wanted to be absolutely sure to have enough staff in the ‘General Policy’ cells.

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