In the meantime and in parallel, the government will begin to analyze the policy options that have already been put on the table.
The Governor of the National Bank, Pierre Wunsch, presented Wednesday to the government meeting in select committee the interim report of the group of experts he chairs. Since the end of April, these experts, who have been proposed by the various components of the majority, have been exploring a series of avenues with a view to strengthening the competitiveness of companies and the purchasing power of Belgians.
The final report will be structured around three axes: an in-depth analysis of the current macroeconomic situation, and more specifically of the magnitude of the current socio-economic shock, an analysis of the effect of existing measures already taken and the identification potential pockets of vulnerabilities for which policy responses can be proposed.
In this report, several possibilities are put forward by the seven experts. Thus, in terms of VAT on energy, it would be a question of conditioning the return to normal of the rate to the fall in prices rather than constantly pushing back the deadline (currently this is set at 30 September) and also to increase the share of excise duties and reduce the share of VAT in order to more easily use an inverted ratchet mechanism to control prices.
The experts also put on the table an early indexation of the tax scales under the withholding tax from July, a way to align the indexation of the net salary with that of the gross salary, as well as an extension of the social energy tariff. or the granting of checks to protect households excluded from this tariff but whose income is significantly lower than the median income. Wage indexation is mentioned but in the sense of an analysis of the flaws in the mechanism with regard to the current crisis, particularly in terms of timing and application of the health index.
The report also focuses on the benefits that would be granted to companies that use a lot of fossil energy but in a targeted manner, for example by providing an accelerated deduction for green investment, or by providing compensation for the proven loss of operating margin . The taxation of excess profits of electricity producers is not forgotten. Experts advocate a structural mechanism to provide predictability to the sector.
The report aims to overhaul price formation on the energy market, for example by making it obligatory to offer at least one fixed contract and one variable contract, smoothing the incorporation of prices in the index, etc. In the medium term, they believe it is important to carry out a fundamental reform of price formation without forgetting to act now to avoid the influx of new variable and expensive contracts.
Measures are envisaged to act on the quantities of energy which are required, for example in the short term by providing for a contingency plan in the event of rationing, by limiting speed on the motorway more or by accelerating the reduction of subsidies for passenger cars society. And in the longer term by taking measures to reduce consumption, such as investing in the insulation of social or modest housing.
The green transition is finally addressed, in particular to ensure price signals compatible with an exit from fossil fuels. A question is also asked about the adjustment of subsidies for renewable energies and renovation when the prices of fossil energy are such that it is possible to make these investments profitable without subsidies.