New man takes on Belgium's financial problems

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New man takes on Belgium's financial problems

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Belgium has a new finance minister. University professor Koen Geens will take over the task of bringing in more austerity.

He has replaced Steven Vanackere who quit after 15 months and who had been steering the discussion on cutting around three billion euros in spending so that Belgium can meet its budget deficit.

He was caught up in a political dispute involving part of the former government rescued Dexia bank and a loan to a trade union linked to his political party.

Vanackere denies any wrongdoing and said in a statement: “Some people apparently couldn’t imagine that I could serve impartially as finance minister. This climate of mistrust hinders my work.”

Belgium only emerged at the end of 2011 from 18 months of political paralysis which saw its government bond borrowing costs shoot up to euro-era highs as investors worried about its ability to rein in deficits and tackle a debt burden approaching 100 percent of output.