Cabinet to agree on rebate for energy costs
7 September 2005, BRUSSELS — The federal government is expected on Friday to agree on various measures to soften the impact the current high energy costs are exerting on the nation's households.
7 September 2005
BRUSSELS — The federal government is expected on Friday to agree on various measures to soften the impact the current high energy costs are exerting on the nation's households.
All coalition partners are in favour of an 'energy cheque', but a demand from the Socialist PS to make the rebate income-based is set to win the day.
The threat from PS leader Elio de Rupo earlier this week to force a Cabinet collapse if an across-the-board rebate was offered appears to have had the desired effect, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Wednesday.
Measures to combat the high oil prices were the talk of Tuesday in Parliament and Di Rupo's threat simply added to the tension.
Di Rupo was angered by Liberal VLD Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt after he publicly backed the energy cheque proposal without consulting his coalition government partners.
"Verhoftstadt should be the prime minister of all Belgians," Di Rupo said.
"Verhofstadt is only the prime minister because the four parties in the government want that. If one of the four parties says that Guy Verhofstadt is no longer prime minister, than is he no longer prime minister."
In turn, the VLD said Di Rupo was just letting off steam, while other government sources criticised the PS leader for making such threats at a time when difficult political decisions had to be taken.
Despite the tension though, it appears the coalition government is prepared to reach an agreement on Friday.
And the PS is set to have its demands met, namely that families with an income lower then EUR 2,000 net per month will be given a cheque for EUR 150.
Families with an income of EUR 2,000 to EUR 3,500 will receive EUR 75 and those who earn more will receive nothing.
The VLD initially wanted an across-the-board EUR 75 payment to every family, but is prepared to accept the PS income-based proposal because it was concerned that middle-income earners would miss out.
Besides the energy cheque, the government is also examining other measures such as allowing monthly payments for domestic fuel oil irrespective of the amount and extending the heating oil fund.
Other proposals include setting up an investment fund that offers interest-free loans for investments in rational energy use and raising fiscal deductions for energy-saving investments.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news