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Flemish Minister-President called to explain budget cuts
Flanders’ minister-president Geert Bourgeois and budget minister Annemie Turtelboom have been asked to return from the summer holiday break early to explain their proposed budget cuts in the Flemish Parliament.
Parliament speaker Jan Peumans has ordered a special committee session on Thursday following a complaint by opposition parties Groen and SP.A that parliament has not been informed about budget figures that are circulating in the press.
The new Flemish government recently announced that €8 billion in budget cuts would have to be made, leading to speculation about where they would fall. Flemish publi transport authority De Lijn and public broadcaster VRT are likely to lose large subsidies, while families are likely to see a drop in child benefits and a hike in childcare costs.
Meanwhile, youth organisations such as the scouts and guides are afraid that they will also face big cuts in their budgets following the government’s announcement that it plans to save €1 billion in subsidies paid to associations. “We are worried about what Geert Bourgeois will announce in his September Declaration,” said Leen Van Vaerenberg of the Chiro youth movement. According to Christophe Lambrechts of the Flemish Scouts and Guides organisation, the cuts could force them to raise membership fees.
Bert Anciaux, former minister of culture, youth and sport, said that the austerity plans would “kill” the associations. “I have never seen such a brutal budget,” he said in an opinion piece in De Morgen.