BRUSSELS Jan 30 Belgium may need to sell
further assets this year to bring its total debt down as agreed
with the European Commission, Belgium's finance minister said on
At the end of 2013, Belgium's public sector stood at 99.7
percent of annual economic output, from 99.8 percent in 2012.
The marginal reduction was principally due to sale of the
bad bank of former lender Fortis which yielded 1 billion euros
($1.36 billion) and the 3.25 billion euro divestment of a stake
in Fortis's former Belgian business to BNP Paribas.
Belgium still owns majority stakes in telecoms operator
Belgacom and postal service and the whole
of Belfius, the former Belgian retail banking arm of bailed-out
Franco-Belgian group Dexia.
It also has a 10.3 percent stake in BNP Paribas.
For 2014, the country has agreed with the European
Commission to bring its debt down to 98 percent, Finance
Minister Koen Geens told a news conference.
"The political approach has been to sell non-strategic
holdings with added value at the most opportune moment.
Everything else is too delicate to comment on," Geens said.
Geens said last year's budget deficit stood at 2.7 percent,
slightly below the European Commission's expectation of 2.8
percent but above the country's target of 2.5 percent.
The government aims to further reduce the deficit to 2.15
percent in 2014, an election year.
($1 = 0.7329 euros)
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop
and David Evans)