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Fitch downgrades Belgium on fiscal slippage

Fitch Ratings on Dec. 23 downgraded to AA- from AA Belgium's long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings, with stable outlooks.

Fitch said the downgrade reflects its view that the Belgian government's fiscal deficit targets have faced successive upward revisions following the government's decision to soften near-term fiscal consolidation as it carried out structural reforms to stimulate economic growth.

Fitch said it revised its general government budget deficit forecast for 2016 to 3.0% of GDP, up from 2.7% in its last review, and raised the 2017 deficit forecast to 2.2% of GDP, from 1.8% in the last review.

Fitch at the same time affirmed Belgium's AAA country ceiling and F1+ short-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings.

In addition, the agency downgraded to AA- from AA the issue rating on the country's senior unsecured foreign- and local-currency bonds and affirmed the F1+ issue rating on the short-term debt.