“We are going to invest more than what we have done for 40 years”

Posted on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 7.15 a.m.

Through Didier Swysen

A budgetary conclave to celebrate his first anniversary in government. The very first Federal Secretary of State for Recovery and Strategic Investments has the banana at the end of this conclave. The additional billion that he managed to obtain allows him to achieve the objectives he wanted (and the majority with him): “It has been at least 40 years since we have not seen so much public investment. Said the socialist.

Is “Mr. Recovery Plan” satisfied with this additional billion? After the recovery plan supported by Europe, is it a bit of a waltz of the billions?

Yes, in total, it will be 2.6 billion until 2024 (the end of the legislature, Editor’s note), with a small queue for 2025 and 2026 … It is very satisfactory and very important for the country to invest for the recovery and thus ensure to see the economy recover on good foundations after the shock suffered. It is also important, because investment and climate are the same issue. Half of CO2 emissions can be reduced by our individual behavior (the way of getting around, for example), but the other half depends on the collective (how is produced what I consume? Transport, building insulation, etc.). We have already made many transitions in history, when we went from the strength of man and horse to coal, then to oil. Each time, we had to invest heavily. This is the case, this time, with the climate. However, our public investments, which represented 5 to 6% of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product, or the wealth produced, Editor’s note) in the 1950s and 1960s, have been in complete decline since the 1980s. They have been divided by three! Look at the condition of our roads. We absolutely want to take a radical turn and reach 4% of GDP by 2030, with an intermediate stage of 3.5% in 2024.

With this billion, do you get there? Can you be completely satisfied, when you have put projects on the table for 3.3 billion euros?

Thanks to the means implemented by the federal government and the federated entities, we will get there. It took at least 800 million for that. But I would like to add a qualification: I did not put 3.3 billion on the table. In fact, we asked all the ministers to submit projects. There, there was effectively 3.3 billion. I then played the role of marshalling yard: what contributed to the ecological transition? What was not detrimental to the environment or not validated by the Inspectorate of Finances? Etc. I always tell my teams that we are a sausage factory. Everything goes into our funnel and we look at how many kilos of sausage we have to take out to meet our goals. It’s a joke, of course …

Mobility, digitization, disaster fund, budget agreement …: find our interview with Thomas Dermine here


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