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In our capacity as economists, we also deplore that a large part of the reforms is closely scrutinized from a legal
standpoint but that the fiscal, budgetary and economic repercussions are not subject to thorough evaluation. These are
questions that affect the daily lives of citizens.
The second conclusion, pertaining to form, concerns the price paid by the federal government and taxpayers to reach
agreement. We note that the federal government systematically saves the agreements as soon as fixed budget transfers
come to the fore and the “loser” blocks the negotiations. The federal government then offers the loser financial
compensation and an equivalent financial transfer is granted to the winner. The discrepancies between the parties
concerned thus remain the same, but the federal government does not come out of the process unscathed. This was
true of the Saint-Éloi agreement and the definition of changes in the “negative term”. We question the soundness of this
Taxpayers risk bearing increased administrative costs stemming from the decentralization of certain taxes. If
decentralization has the advantage of drawing the government closer to the citizen, it nonetheless engenders higher
costs since it cancels out economies of scale and denies certain rules of efficiency (such is the case with the calculation
of the real estate tax and personal income tax). Such costs will inevitably be reflected in the amount of tax due and there
is no guarantee that such costs will be offset by gains in efficiency related to decentralization.
Our analysis has highlighted the need to closely monitor the use to which are put the regions’ broader fields of
jurisdiction and the new financial means acquired by the communities. Above all, we must avoid, on the eve of the next
round of negotiations, finding some of the interlocutors in such a financial stranglehold that they may not allow
themselves any other demand. Therefore, it is essentially a question of ascertaining in a timely fashion the possible
detrimental effects of tax competition and making provision for adequate responses and solutions thanks to efficient
fiscal management tools. If all entities have such management tools, our federalism could evolve from an antagonist era
to a more constructive era between different but mature entities, voluntary cooperation being a possible result of it. 73
75 See Lambert, Tulkens et al. (1999).
De Bruycker (2001).
See the article by W. Bourton in Le Soir of July 14, 2001 concerning the Brussels region. 219 Commission on Fiscal Imbalance BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Bourton, W. (2001). “Gérer l’après-Lambermont. Bruxelles va s’offrir un simulateur fiscal,” Le Soir, July 14, 2001.
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