How to relieve household energy bills? At the microphone of Matin Première, the Federal Minister of Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten recognizes that there is urgency: “In October and November, we had already taken decisions to help the most vulnerable, in particular by acting on the social tariff. There are two million people who are helped today. But we see that prices continue to increase. And so yes, we must broaden our political action to those who need it.”
The Creg, the federal regulator of the energy market, had forecast a drop in energy prices after the winter. This did not take place. The issue is therefore back on the government’s table. Several avenues are proposed by the different parties. The Federal Minister of Energy is supposed to assess its feasibility and relevance.
A reduction in VAT?
One of them would be a temporary reduction in VAT from 21 to 6%. But the Prime Minister spoke yesterday in the chamber. He set a framework for the measures to be taken: they must be temporary, targeted to the people who need them most, including the middle class, and they must be sustainable for public finances. Targeted measures, does that mean that we do away with the idea of a VAT cut, since it would affect everyone?
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“Non, replies the Minister of Energy, the situation requires studying all the solutions with a single goal, to help people. Yes, the measures must be targeted, but let’s see how we can act, either with a check or with VAT. But above all with the instrument that we have already created: we made a very major reform on the energy bill, of all the various federal taxes that existed, we made a single excise.”
Since this month of January, in fact, federal taxes on energy bills have been transformed into excise duties, which have been frozen. The advantage of these excise duties is that they allow more flexible federal intervention on invoices. “This is the weapon we made, let’s use it”.
“We have always said, as a federal government, that no one could get richer from this crisis., pour suit Tinne Van der Straeten, and therefore, yes, there is VAT revenue that can be used to reimburse people. And there are also, perhaps, surplus beneficiaries among certain market players.”
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Could we therefore seek money from these private actors to finance additional measures? “Creg, the price regulator, is doing a study on this. They already did a first valuation a few months ago, which indicated that there was no real excess profit. But they are going to do it again now and so we are waiting for the results.”
An energy check?
Another track on the table, put forward by the Socialists: an energy check. “We must keep the long term and the structural”, Specifies the Minister of Energy. Does this therefore exclude the energy check? “No, that’s not what I’m saying. All the proposals put forward must be discussed.”
And Minister Groen added: “The energy that we do not consume is the best market. We must also act in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy, which is the only energy whose prices are falling. And, therefore, it is a joint action with the regional governments. The bill is a shared responsibility of all governments.”