Fitch Ratings affirms Belgium’s AA rating but revises outlook from stable to negative
The Federal Government has taken note of the rating awarded to Belgium by ratings agency Fitch Ratings. The agency remains very confident in Belgium and observed that the country had solid institutions. However, it was concerned about various aspects of Belgium’s budget, as a result of which it revised the outlook for the country from stable to negative. Its explanations for doing so include: new European accounting rules which have changed the scope used for calculating debt; budgetary issues in 2014 due to elections that did not allow for strict budgetary control; and an economic slowdown that has hit public finances.
Fitch Ratings’ findings support the Belgian Government’s decision to undertake essential structural reforms with a view to driving down the deficit and the debt level, closing the current gap in competitiveness and financing pensions and health care in the long term.
The responsible choices made by the government are sound – there are no real alternatives. Fitch Ratings’ analysis has confirmed once more that the government’s chosen course of action is best for our wellbeing, our jobs and the solidarity underpinning our country.
Fitch Ratings supported the coalition’s proposed structural reforms. It observed that the 2015 budget already featured “structural reforms” geared towards reducing the deficit to 2.1% of GDP. It added that this marked “a significant difference with the quality of the fiscal efforts seen since 2009”, highlighting that the actions taken at that time concentrated on revenue and one-off measures.
The ratings agency, which “identified Belgium as one of the countries in the eurozone whose public finances could be worst hit by ageing costs”, welcomed the government’s plans for pension reform.