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The National Recovery and Resilience Plan details the use of the €5.925 billion allocated under the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The major part (88%) of the Belgian plan is directly intended to increase the capital stock of the Belgian economy through public investment and aid to private investment. In the short term, at the peak of the plan's stimulus effect, economic activity would be 0.2% higher than in the non-plan scenario. Although the stimulus is temporary, it has long-term effects due to the increase in the public capital stock and the support for R&D activities that improve the profitability of the capital stock of firms and encourage its accumulation. By 2040, GDP is still projected to be 0.1% above non-plan growth path. This estimate does not take into account the reform component of the plan, nor the broader recovery, investment and reform plans announced by the Regions and the federal government, nor the effect of foreign plans on the Belgian economy.
Belgian government investment, and specifically the part spent on infrastructure, is relatively low both in historical terms and compared to neighbouring countries. A simulation with the European Commission’s Quest III model suggests that increasing government investment permanently by 0.5% of GDP leads to a growth in GDP, private consumption and private investment. The impact of alternative financing mechanisms is compared. Finally, a budget neutral shift of investment in favour of infrastructure is found to yield significant benefits in terms of GDP and its main components already in the medium run.
In network industries the market reform that is being pursued by national and supranational authorities should lead to an improvement of efficiency, which spills over into a beneficial macroeconomic impact. This paper presents two alternative simulations of the potential impact in Belgium. These simulations give very different outcomes, but are still complementary. A macroeconometric approach seems to be more realistic in the short and mid term because it has been built up from observed behavioural relationships. A general-equilibrium approach gives rise to drawing some lessons about the conditions that make the impact more pronounced in the long term.