BELGIUM - Marie Arena, the newly-appointed minister for social integration and pensions, has announced the Belgian government will top up first pillar pensions by €100m in the next few months.

The minimum pension will be increased by 2% from July - to €956.48 for employees and €846.88 for self-employed, while families will see their pension go up to €1,159.22 and €1,125.59 respectively.

At the same time, the solidarity contribution - an additional contribution by pensioners - will also be scrapped in July for those with the lowest pensions and lowered for remaining pensioners.

The abolition of this contribution has been welcomed by its critics who have argued the solidarity contribution goes against the basic principles of a pension, since pensioners should not contribute to their own pension.

Other changes include an increase of 2% to the income guarantee for elderly, which will also be introduced in July.

The arena of the Francophone Parti Socialiste joined the federal government in March, after Yves Leterme was sworn in as the country's new prime minister on March 20, ending a nine-month political crisis in Belgium.

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