In 2018, the consolidated debt of the Flemish Authorities was 18,218 million euros, measured according to the definitions of the Institute of National Accounts (INA). The calculation of the consolidated debt according to the INA concept is used to reflect the long-term evolution and for interregional and European comparisons.
The INA debt decreased from 13,524 million euro in 1996 to 6,743 million in 2007, but increased as a result of the ESA 2010 rules (which were applied retroactively) and the sixth state reform to more than 14,619 million euro in 2009 and to 18,218 million in 2018.
Since 2014, the Department of Finance and Budget of the Flemish Authorities (FB-FA) uses a broader FB-FA concept for its own debt management , with some corrections to the INA concept. According to the broader FB-FA concept, the consolidated gross debt of the Flemish Authorities was 23,184 million euro in 2018.
The FB-FA debt increased sharply in 2016 because the debt relating to the funding of hospital infrastructure (almost 5,000 million euro) was transferred from the federal government to the regions as a consequence of the sixth State reform. In 2017 and 2018, debt slightly decreased.
In 2018, the contribution by the Flemish Authorities to the total consolidated gross debt of all the Belgian authorities (according to the INA concept) was 18,218 million euro. The debt of the Walloon authorities (French Community and Walloon Region) amounted to 29,023 million euro, that of the Brussels-Capital Region to 4,682 million and that of the other regional and interregional public authorities to over 6,405 million euro.
Between 1995 and 2018 the contribution by the Flemish Authorities rose by 44%. After an almost continuous decline between 2003 and 2007, there was a sharp increase in 2009 and a further increase to 18,708 million euro in 2016. The contribution of the Flemish Authorities then decreased again.
In the 1995-2018 period, the contribution of the Walloon authorities rose by 182%.
In 2016, the share of the interregional public authorities increased sharply due to the hospital infrastructure debt. Since the distribution of this debt among the various federated entities is not yet known, the INA reports it to the interregional units.
In 2018, the Flemish municipal authorities had a consolidated debt of around 6,600 million euro.
Between 2003 and 2018 the debt decreased by 14%. In 2003, the debt was nearly 7,685 million euro and remained fairly stable until 2007. In 2008 there was a decrease to nearly 7,100 million euro, but the debt then increased to 8,020 million in 2013. From 2014, the debt again decreased until 2018.
There are large differences in the size and evolution of debt between the local authorities other that the municipal authorities.
The debt of the Public Social Welfare Centres (PCSW) was largest in 2018: 1,820 million euro. Between 2014 and 2018 debt decreased by 435 million euro (-19%).
In 2018, the autonomous municipal companies (AMC) had a debt of around 1,385 million euro. From 2014, their debt increased by 654 million euro (90%).
The PCSW associations had a debt of 601 million euro in 2018, compared to 322 million in 2017. Between 2014 and 2018, debt increased by 557 million euro. The impact of the phased entry into the policy and management cycle (BBC) plays a role here, as a result of which some PCSW associations only reported figures from 2015 onwards. The increase in the number of associations in recent years also plays a role.
The debt of the provincial authorities decreased from almost 600 million euro in 2014 to almost 395 million in 2018.
In 2018, the autonomous provincial companies (APC) had a debt of 19 million euro. In 2015, that debt still stood at 93 million euro.
Debt higher than 2,000 euro per inhabitant in 13 municipalities
The consolidated debt of the municipal authorities per inhabitant varies considerably from one municipality to another.
In 84 municipalities (including centre city Turnhout) the debt in 2018 was lower than 500 euro per inhabitant. The municipalities of As, Baarle-Hertog, Dentergem, Drogenbos, Hamont-Achel, Herstappe, Horebeke, Kasterlee, Ravels and Vorselaar had no financial debts. In 21 municipalities the debt ranged from 0 to 200 euro per inhabitant and in 53 municipalities from 200 to 500 euro.
In 112 municipalities (including centre cities Aalst, Antwerp and Bruges) the debt in 2018 was between 500 and 1,000 euro per inhabitant, in 72 municipalities (including centre cities of Ostend, Sint-Niklaas and Leuven) between 1,000 and 1,500 and in 27 municipalities (including centre cities Hasselt, Genk and Roeselare) between 1,500 and 2,000 euro.
The debt amounted to more than 2,000 euro per inhabitant in 13 municipalities (in ascending order): Sint-Truiden, Kortrijk, Bornem, Londerzeel, Ghent, Zottegem, Nieuwpoort, Houthulst, Tervuren, Beveren, Wielsbeke, Mechelen and Koksijde.
Consolidated debt: the sum of the financial debts (and in exceptional cases also the other debts) of all entities in the consolidation scope of the Flemish Authorities. The consolidation scope indicates which group of entities are included in the calculation of the consolidated budget, balance (including debt) and annual financial statement. Two concepts for consolidated debt are used: the INA concept and the FB-FA concept.
INA Concept: concept of the Institute for National Accounts (INA) (Flemish Community - Contribution to the consolidated ‘Maastricht’ gross debt) that is used for showing the evolution during the 2004-2018 period at national level and European comparisons.
FB-FA Concept: wider concept of the Department of Finance and Budget of the Flemish Authorities (FB-FA), in which some corrections are made to the INA debt. The most important correction is the inclusion of the debt relating to the funding of hospitals which, since 2016, has been borne by the Flemish budget and which the INA reports to the inter-regional units since its breakdown over the various communities and regions has not yet been determined. However, the Department of Finance and Budget does not want to underestimate the Flemish debt and therefore reports a provisional figure according to its own calculations.