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Belgian report Belgian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-12-13 08:55:54
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Belgium grants DRC 14 million Euros for elections

Belgium is to give 14 million Euros to DR Congo towards its 2011 general election, according to a statement from the Belgian government made available to the press in Brussels on Friday. According to the statement, the money will be managed by the Project in Support of the Electoral Cycle (PACE) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The European Union (EU) has already announced that it would contribute 47.5 million Euros to the general election in DRC. It remains to be seen if the European Union will send a fast reaction force to guarantee a peaceful poll. In 2006, the presence of that force in Kinshasa ensured a peaceful vote.


Russia, Belgium sign cornerstone declaration

Russia and Belgium have adopted a declaration paving the way for the scrapping of the visa regime and Russia's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The declaration was signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and acting Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme in Brussels on Wednesday.

"The sides acknowledge the importance of Russia's membership in the WTO, which would become a key element in the efforts to diversify and modernize Russia's economy," the document said. It would also help increase cooperation between Russia and the EU in trade, investment, high technology, aircraft and space industries and other areas, it said.

The document invited Belgian politicians and businessmen to attend annual economic forums in Russia's second largest city, St. Petersburg. It also called for a speedy completion of talks on the new Russia-EU partnership agreement.


Belgian central bank urges govt to soothe markets

Belgium's central bank chief, Guy Quaden, on Monday urged the rudderless country's divided politicians to speedily form a government to allay financial market fears about its future. "It would be best to have a new government in the next weeks," Quaden told a news conference after yields peaked on Belgian bonds last week, seeing Belgium lumped in with other weak eurozone economies Portugal and Spain that analysts suggest are next in line for bailouts after Greece and Ireland.

He also revised upwards growth forecasts to 2.1 percent for 2010, against a June forecast of 1.3 percent, and 1.8 percent for 2011, against a previous estimate of 1.7 percent.
Belgium is being run by a caretaker cabinet after elections last June failed to produce an outright winner, with political leaders in the language-divided nation of 10 million still squabbling over a deal. "A government is needed quite rapidly but it must be a stable government," he said. "It is difficult to understand overseas how a country can remain without a government for over six months and still continue to function." But Quaden said the response on markets last week to the Belgian political impasse was both "bizarre" and "more than irrational."

"I cannot see how one could reasonably assimilate (Belgium) with other countries that are facing problems," he said. With growth better than expected, the BNB chief said deficit was expected to hit 4.8 percent of GDP this year and slide to 4.7 percent in 2011. Debt is forecast at 97.6 percent this year and 99.8 percent next year. Significantly, that came in below the latest EU forecasts released last week that would make Belgium only the third eurozone state to amass debts of more than 100 percent, or a year's output, after Greece and Ireland. "Belgian growth is higher than the European average and the deficit is lower," he said. "Belgium's situation is relatively satisfactory" and "far better than in other countries," Quaden said, calling nonetheless for "a resolute but progressive reduction in public deficits." He said the country's political leaders were all in agreement over the need to bring down the deficit to 4.1 percent of GDP next year, three percent in 2012, and break even in 2015. The BNB chief said however that inflation was rising faster in Belgian than in other European states -- forcast at 2.3 percent this year and 2.1 percent in 2011.

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