The budget deficit of the FWB should deteriorate by around 65% in four years

For the 2023 financial year, the entity’s announced deficit should be 1 billion euros, to increase to 1.38 billion in 2024, then 1.47 billion in 2025, and even 1.65 billion in 2026, i.e. more than the historic slippage of 1.54 billion recorded in 2020, an “annus horribilis” in budgetary terms due to the costs generated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The FWB’s deficit/revenue ratio will thus increase from 7.54% in 2023 to 12.49% in 2026.

Consequence of these recurring and growing slippages: the direct debt of the Federation, which currently amounts to nearly 11 billion euros, should reach some 17.5 billion euros in 2026, according to figures put forward on Monday by Mr. Daerden during the presentation of the 2023 budget in committee of the FWB Parliament.

Questioned several times in recent years on the explosion of the entity’s debt, Mr. Daerden has so far always considered it sustainable, the interest to be paid each year on this debt always remaining below 2% of the revenues of the FWB, a threshold deemed healthy by the minister.

But with the current rise in interest rates and the continued swelling of the debt, this burden of the FWB’s debt will exceed this limit of 2% of its income within two years.

Announced at 1.58% for 2023, this debt service will weigh 1.93% of its revenue from 2024, before reaching the figure of 2.38% in 2025, and even 2.88% in 2026, according to the figures put forward on Monday by Mr. Daerden.

In the opposition, the deputy and former budget minister, André Antoine (Les Engagés) did not hide his concern for the future of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation on Monday. An institution “exhausted and without prospects”, he judged.