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Wallonia regulates a galaxy valued at € 7.3 billion

According to the Court, Wallonia has 250 assets with a market value of 7.3 billion

In which state is Wallonia's financial situation? When the budget conclave opens on Monday, a small tour of the owner of the house Wallonia seems wise. We will not lie, with an employment rate of 63.7%, unemployment hovering around 200,000 job seekers and financial debt of SEK 21.7 billion at the end of 2018, concessions that Wallonia can offer is not very attractive

And it is unfortunately no better on the budget side with a PS-MR-Ecolo government caught between European restrictions and investment needs. At the end of the fiscal conclave, here are the key trends: by pushing the return to balance in 2024, the government hopes PS-MR-Ecolo will free up the scope for a series of major projects. We are talking about a total budget of € 4 billion for the entire legislature for investments in mobility, energy savings or social housing. This goal obviously has a setback: the blame!

Debt grows

The fiscal path borrowed by the new Walloon coalition will stagnate debt in the southern country. The figures will be confirmed at the end of the conclave, but the latest estimates speak of a deficit of 250 million for 201

9 and about 500 million for 2020 . In total, an amount of approximately EUR 750 million is added to Wallonia's total debt.

"Behind this debt are financial assets. The debt we have is a gross debt and not clear."

Jean-Luc Crucke

Minister of the Budget

So much for this! Fortunately, however, financial Wallonia is not only made up of liabilities and deficits. In this equation, a new report from the Court of Auditors could free the morale of the public authority. Budget Minister Jean-Luc Crucke (RM) understood this well. Dated at the end of May 2019, this report addresses financial contributions from the Walloon region. " Behind this debt are financial assets. The debt we have is a gross debt and not completed ," says the Cabinet Ministry. "It is a productive debt " …

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The jewels of the family

Wallonia would thus rule over a galaxy with 250 assets there it holds interests. In terms of subscription value, the Court evaluates these investments at EUR 5.4 billion at the end of 2017. To this amount, it adds a market value. In essence, the court's experts sought to evaluate the participants at the current market price (as of 31/12/2017). We reach 7.3 billion euros.

What is in this galaxy? In addition to investments in industrial companies such as Sonaca, the UN or SMEs, this amount includes a series of public assets where Wallonia is a shareholder such as the two Walloon airports, autonomous ports, financial tools such as Sogepa or SRIW. , investing, the housing companies. Or, as the Court points out, no less than 250 assets spread across the territory.

In terms of profit sharing, these holdings yielded only 35.8 million between 2013 and 2017.

Of course, we will not talk about a war chest. The majority of these assets are difficult to sell either by their purpose as a housing company or by their strategic interest in the region that ends up, but together they represent a book value that will improve the coat of arms of the Wallonia region when it comes to renegotiating its loans from institutional investors. " This report presents the region's unity under a more favorable face. We can explain that the Walloon debt finances productive investments ", estimates the company Crucke.

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No cash machines

However, it would be presumptuous to talk about real milk cows or cash machines. Between 2013 and 2017, " the total profit distribution received by the region amounted to EUR 35.8 million ". However, for 2018 the Court notes a dividend of 30 million from SRIW and Wespavia.

Red Card | Accounting at the Stone Age

There is a serious warning behind the ant work carried out by the Court's experts. This applies to the situation for regional accounting. To read the Court's incessant criticism, in this report as in others in recent years, Wallonia would still be in the Stone Age

The report on Wallonia's participation is informative. After noticing in 2013 that the region did not have a comprehensive and centralized inventory of its financial holdings, the institution repeated its findings during this audit. "The financial contributions from the Wallonia region are still not subject to an exhaustive census nor a centralized monitoring of the region". In other words, without the work of the Court of Auditors, no one in Wallonia would have been able to provide the region's total financial participation.

Why such a gap? In its report the Court states that the region does not currently have the necessary tools to manage a portfolio of financial holdings . However, holding an inventory of accurate participation is nevertheless the most effective way to at any time have a set of information necessary for their optimal management. "

In a time of big data and digital, this remonstrance is very bad. The Court does not hesitate to say that " deficiencies found undermine accounting transparency."

In its small shoes, the region noted the court's remonstrances. "It is true, the maintenance of the marriage record is incomplete. We needed a computer tool ", acknowledge it in the High Spheres of Wallonia. This can be improved with the implementation of a SPA accounting system from 2020 according to the Wbfin Regulation.

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