The acting mayor of Bièvre, the federal minister for the middle classes, the self-employed, SMEs and agriculture is aware that this crisis is very serious: “I immediately understood that the war, and the crisis that would ensue, it would have been tougher than Covid. Also, when I told Pascal Vrebos on RTL well before the holidays, no one believed me. It will be a long structural crisis … It affects everyone and puts a strain on our system. wages are affected and electricity bills explode. This puts the profitability of most companies that are seeing their margins plummeting. “
What can you do ?
“Already in May I had set up a Ukraine Task Force due to the increase in the price of raw materials. In June, when I deposited the conclusions on Kern’s table, I had sounded the alarm bell. Kern had taken note of my requests, but there was no consensus for us to be able to implement aid measures at that time. ”
Do you fear an impact on employment?
“The Walloon average company has 10 employees. A 10% indexation means an 11th staff member to pay, but with only 10 employees. Either it is an eleventh person who is not hired, or it is a person who is fired to pay the other 9. ”
What is the action to take?
“It is urgent for me to reduce the price of the invoice. Beyond what can be done at the European level, it is also possible to act at the regional level. 30% of the electricity bill is made up of regional supplements: green certificates, road contributions, inter-municipal authorities… all this is included in the bill. ”
And at the federal level?
“We need to save jobs and allow companies to survive. Either action is taken on deferred contributions, just bridging measures, flexible temporary unemployment or bank aid … or with measures that cost money such as exemptions from contributions, reductions in excise duties on electricity or fuel … ”
When can an aid plan be implemented
“When we have the budget that will be generated by the taxation of super-profits, then we will be able to see how we can work to best help. ”
Should businesses fear power outages?
“We can imagine spreading plans. Companies must be able to work. We have had relatively low bankruptcy numbers for the past two years. However, since the end of Covid, we have noticed that these figures have increased dramatically. The energy crisis risks accentuating this phenomenon. ”
Among the measures, if you had to choose one?
“I find there are good ideas: we could act with a tax-free indexation that would be granted net and not gross. It would allow the worker to benefit from all indexation, but the employer would not have to pay all the social security contributions that are assigned to that indexation. Both would be winners. It is an interesting lead even if it will have an impact on social security. ”
How to ensure that the house of cards does not collapse everywhere at the same time? What to do for the citizen?
“The middle class, isolated people, single women with one child, pay more taxes… we have to think of these people who are hard hit by the electricity bill. We need to help them urgently. Also, I ask that a certain number of kilowatt hours of energy be cheaper. This would entail a progressive price for consumption as well as for water. This is the case, for example, in my city. The first 30 m3 are 3 euros and then they are 5 euros… and the growth continues. We should be able to put in place a system for the benefit of citizens who consume little or who decide to commit. I have presented this proposal. I think it is easier to implement this measure than to want to pay based on what you earn. ”
Will you finally end up with a helper spouse’s pension?
“In fact, in this reform there was a hiccup because to have a pension you had to have a career of 30 years. This represents 17,000 people, including 16,000 women. The problem was simple: the women who started paying / contributing in 2003 and taking their retirement before 2033… will never have a 30-year career. We had to find an alternative. We have it. I hope that the text will be voted on by the end of the year, with application on 1 January. The amount will be calculated on a case-by-case basis based on the number of years of contribution of the person. ”
At what point are you with the microcredit project?
“We are working on a card with Febelfin so that when a person is denied credit as a self-employed person, there is a new kind of follow-up. In fact, I would like there to be a systematic transfer of the project to microcredit organizations that focus on smaller projects … I hope this will end with the writing of this paper with Febelfin later in the year. This would be a step forward that would allow us to do more. ”
This Sunday, the news will undoubtedly lead him to defend the government’s proposals on the energy front.
“It will be a very busy Sunday. I will not be with my family. I will probably go to the TV studios but also to the party day in Durbuy (Adventure Valley) … And I would also like to go to the Heritage Days in Graide because the staircase that gives access to the church tower declared to be exceptionally open. “
Why do women entrepreneurs find it more difficult than men to obtain a bank loan?
“It remains a real problem. I have a round table that is about to be set up. We have already had three meetings. We want to objectify the financing of women’s business projects because we have information that seems to show that women don’t always get loans when they ask for them… whereas a man would get them. We find it hard to objectify the facts but we are working on it with Febelfin… We want to fight this phenomenon which is not acceptable. ”
What can you do about the explosion of burnout and other mental health disorders?
“Today, my observation is that women and men are asking for help too late. People between the ages of 50 and 59 are the most affected. There were 16,000 people in 2000 and 28,000 today, more than double. Covid has done a lot of damage. We have developed a burn-out stress plan with the Minister of Health and the insurance funds… I want to free up more resources to raise awareness. On July 15, the Council of Ministers approved a scheme for a royal decree awarding grants as part of the second phase of the Federal Action Plan “Mental well-being at work”. Three social security funds will thus be able to develop pilot projects to prevent stress and burnout among self-employed workers. ”
What are these projects?
“There is the ICARUS project“ I undertake my well-being ”by UCM. Aims to sensitize self-employed workers to the importance of ensuring their well-being at work and to measure, through an individual test, exposure to psychosocial risks … as well as individual support sessions to adequately arm the self-employed against stress and burn-out. ”
Is there any other support?
“We also have the Liantis ‘Doing More Strongly Together’ project, which aims to proactively raise awareness, inform and advise self-employed workers on mental risk in key moments of stress in their careers. In addition, they are studying the added value of group coaching, developing a wellness barometer and online / offline training modules to improve stress recognition and how to manage it. ”
What can you do against long-lasting stress?
“We will also have Acerta’s ‘Healthy Entrepreneurship’ project, which initially aims to sensitize self-employed workers to the risks associated with long-term stress, psychosocial burden and financial worries. Then there is the help with self-diagnosis and attention to the alarming risk factors he feels concerned about. ”