Another 2% salary increase for civil servants
Public sector wages will rise 2% in April as the benchmark index overshot in February. For the month following this deductible, allowances and pensions are indexed by 2% to adjust them to the cost of living. Official salaries will follow a month later.
Civil servant salaries are indexed for the second time this year. This also happened in February after the leading index overshooted in December.
According to the planning office, it is possible for the middle index to be exceeded for the third time this year.
These frequent overruns are associated with significant inflation. It hit 8.04% in February, the highest level since March 1983, driven by high prices for energy products.
Increase in minimum income
The minimum wage will increase by 76.28 euros from April 1 (without indexing). This is the first step of the four-stage minimum wage increase negotiated between the social partners of the group of ten, in two further phases (January 2024 and 2026) each 35 euros gross will be added. The first phase involved increasing the guaranteed average monthly minimum income (RMMMG) to EUR 1,700 per month. However, the amount will be higher due to the different indexations, since the pivot index has been exceeded three times since the date of signing this agreement. In the end, this will be 100 euros higher than expected and amounts to 1,806.16 euros.
Extension and strengthening of the employment bonus
The mini tax shift that the federal government pushed through in early February also included an extension and strengthening of the employment bonus from April 1st. This consists of a reduction in personal social security contributions for employees. Social Affairs Minister Frank Vandenbroucke says he wants to “reward more” those who work. The benefit is concentrated on the lowest wages: the lower the wage, the higher the employment bonus benefit. The eligibility cap for this bonus has been expanded. From now on, people who earn up to EUR 2,848 gross per month can also benefit, while the maximum limit was previously EUR 2,772. In concrete terms, this extension means that employees with a gross salary of EUR 2,775 who until recently did not meet the necessary requirements will receive a net increase of EUR 170 per year.
The bonus will also be increased, increasing the annual income of full-time employees with a gross monthly salary of between 1,800 and 2,750 euros by at least 160 euros. The peak even reaches 284 euros, with a gross monthly salary of 1,850 euros.
The Vivaldi coalition has invested a further 100 million euros for this bonus. “With this adjustment, we increase the purchasing power of those who work, and more people can benefit from the employment premium and have more net money at the end of the month,” the minister welcomed Vandenbroucke on Sunday.
This measure comes in addition to the adjustment of the minimum wage, which also came into effect on April 1: it now amounts to EUR 1,806.16 gross per month. In April 2024 and 2026 there will be an additional 35 euros gross each. A fourth increase in the minimum wage is possible in April 2028.
VAT on gas and electricity rises to 6%
VAT on gas and electricity will be cut from 21% to 6% from April 1, in line with the federal government’s agreement to lower the bill for households facing sharp increases in energy prices. The measure is valid until September 30th. The Feds have already promised a re-rating and possible extension after that date if market prices remain elevated. Suppliers must already reduce the VAT on the monthly installment invoice. There are also plans to introduce a one-off automatic invoice reduction of EUR 200 per household for all households that heat with oil or propane/butane gas, retroactive to January 1st.
The extended social tariff, which will benefit one million of the most vulnerable households, will also be extended until September 30.
Petrol stations must display the average fuel cost per 100 km
From April 1st, petrol station owners must put up a poster with the average cost per 100 kilometers. This new obligation applies to service station owners who offer at least three of the following fuel types: petrol 95, diesel, LPG, electricity, hydrogen and CNG.
The poster is to be updated quarterly and placed in a clearly visible place at the petrol pumps and in the petrol station branches.
The European Union initiated this measure, which aims to better inform consumers about the prices of different types of fuel.
A maximum of EUR 250,000 in the BNP Paribas Fortis savings account
BNP Paribas Fortis has decided to limit the maximum authorized amount of the regulated savings account to 250,000 euros from April 1st, compared to a currently unlimited amount. If the savings account exceeds 250,000 euros, the excess amount will be made available on another deposit account already existing or opened for the occasion, with the same management parameters as the account at the point of origin of the transfer.
The account that receives the amount that exceeds the approved threshold has a zero (0%) lending rate.
According to the bank, more than 99% of BNP Paribas Fortis customers, Hello bank! and Fintro are not affected by this measure.
Mandatory posting in the “Pesticides” section in garden centers and hardware stores
From April 1, garden centers and hardware stores must put up a series of posters in the “Pesticides” section warning of the dangers of pesticides to the environment and health. One of these posters picks up on general precautions for use (wearing gloves, spraying without human presence, using recycling parks, etc.). The other three present short-acting alternatives to protect against invasive weeds, insects or diseases in the garden.
Each of these posters will be provided with a specific QR code that links to a website with more detailed explanations.
A fund to clean up soil contaminated by oil tank leaks
The Promaz fund, which will be operational from April 1, will financially support owners of broken oil tanks to clean up the soil. This fund is intended for any owner or end user of an oil tank in Belgium who has or has had a sealing problem (arising from the tank itself or its pipes) with proven soil contamination. Fuel oil tanks that have been taken out of service and have caused pollution can also be the subject of an intervention. The subsidy includes buildings with a residential function (houses, apartments) but also non-residential buildings (e.g. offices).
The text was published in Belgium’s Monitor at the end of February after twenty years of negotiations with the oil sector, which finances the fund.
Applicants can register on the website www.promaz.be and check whether they are eligible to participate. The Fund will then contact you.
Reduced VAT for solar panels, heat pumps and solar water heaters
The federal government has decided to reduce VAT on the purchase and installation of solar panels, heat pumps and solar boilers to 6% from April 1st. This reduced rate already exists for houses that are more than 10 years old. From April 1 to December 31, 2023, it also applies to dwellings less than 10 years old, including newly built dwellings and dwellings rebuilt after demolition. The federal government recently decided to release 1.16 billion euros to reduce energy dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate the shift to sustainable energy. The investment package accompanies the decision to extend the lifespan of the two youngest nuclear power plants.
The 1.16 billion released by the government are also earmarked for expanding offshore wind capacity in the North Sea and extending the VAT reduction to 6% on demolition and reconstruction, among other things.
The pension tax comes into force on April 1st
The tax on boarding an airplane comes into effect on April 1st. It is intended to promote alternatives such as the train instead of “chip jump” flights. This tax, which affects all airports in the country, is 10 euros for a passenger whose destination is no more than 500 km as the crow flies from the country’s busiest Belgian airport (Brussels Zaventem Airport), and two euros for a passenger whose destination is further away , but is located in the European Economic Area, the United Kingdom or Switzerland, and four euros for a “long-haul” passenger whose destination is more than 500 km away and is outside these different European countries.
However, Air Belgium, Brussels Airlines and TUI deplore this particularly unwelcome tax as the sector is “trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the most costly and severe crisis in its history”. The airlines are also concerned about the implementation conditions of such a measure.
Voo is raising some of its prices
Walloon telecom operator Voo is increasing some of its tariffs from April 1st to adapt to accelerating inflation. These price increases vary between 1 and 2.50 euros per month. A total of 35 tariffs will be increased. For example, the cable TV subscription will increase from €22 to €23.50 per month, an increase of €18 per year. For offers that have been marketed since November 2019, the increase is between 1 and 2.50 euros. It will be between 55 cents and 2 euros for previous offers.
Voo usually adjusts its fares on July 1, but accelerating inflation has forced the operator to adjust its schedule. All updated prices can be found on the operator’s website in the tariffs section