Agreement of the Inner Cabinet + 10 on spending power support measures for Belgians and industries in difficulty
The Inner Cabinet, extended to include the 10 parties supporting the Federal Government, have adopted a series of measures from the third part of the Federal Plan for Social and Economic Protection.
A first package contains measures already taken by the federal government, which will be extended. The most important measures are:
- temporary unemployment due to corona force majeure;
- the bridging right for the self-employed;
- and corona parental leave.
These measures are extended until 31 August.
This also applies to other measures such as freezing the degressive nature of unemployment benefits, all measures for artists, the EUR 3 million grant to Public Welfare Centres (OCMW/CPAS) for food aid and the benefits for those who donate computer equipment to schools.
Four specific support measures have been taken for industries in difficulty, including the hotel and catering industry, order to mitigate the socio-economic impact of a gradual resumption of activity. These are:
- - An extension and improvement of the bridging right for the self-employed until 31 August 2020, with a possible extension until 31 December 2020;
- - At the same time, an extension of temporary unemployment until 31 December 2020.
- - To improve the financial situation of hospitality establishments, VAT on all services, except alcoholic beverages, will be reduced to 6% until 31 December 2020;
- In severely affected industries that had to resort to temporary unemployment, an agreement was reached to grant a partial exemption from payment of withholding tax for the next three months. This will also be an incentive to have employees who are currently temporarily unemployed return to work.
As far as company solvency is concerned, the bank guarantee will be extended. The opportunities for extending the measure to SMEs will soon be discussed in Parliament. Proposals to support artists will also be discussed there next week.
Attention was also paid to Belgians' spending power. The Federal Government and the ten parties want to create a positive dynamic, first and foremost and as a matter of priority for the people, but also for the economic activity of our country. The measures include
- A consumption voucher of EUR 300 aimed at the worst affected industries. This voucher can be granted by employers for the purchase of goods and services in the hospitality industry, the cultural industry, etc. This cheque is 100% deductible and tax-free.
- Additional support of 6 times 50 euros per month to living wage earners, people with disabilities and people entitled to an IGO/GRAPA (income guarantee for the elderly).
- Every resident of our country will get a rail pass (NMBS/SNCB) for 10 train rides valid from 1 July to 31 December. The supplement for taking bicycles on the train will be lifted temporarily.
Moreover, additional support for the Public Welfare Centres (OCMW/CPAS) will be provided through a further temporary 15% increase in the Federal Government's reimbursement rate.
The ten parties have agreed to continue negotiating additional support measures that may complement this first package.