Energy rebate proposal sparks conflict
6 September 2005, BRUSSELS — As divisions open up at a federal level over proposals to compensate the public for higher energy costs, Socialist PS leader Elio di Rupo has warned he could force the government's collapse.
6 September 2005
BRUSSELS — As divisions open up at a federal level over proposals to compensate the public for higher energy costs, Socialist PS leader Elio di Rupo has warned he could force the government's collapse.
Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders proposed at the end of August paying EUR 75 to every family in December or January to compensate them for higher heating costs.
The 'energy cheque' is not only intended for those who use heating oil. Households which use gas, electricity or other forms of energy will also be compensated.
Several other proposals are also being discussed and the energy cheque will either come as a real payment or reduced taxes.
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has officially backed the plan from Reynders — a member of the Movement Reform MR party — but Di Rupo has sharply criticised the Liberal VLD leader's role in the debate.
"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," Di Rupo said.
The conflict is revolves around demands from the PS for the energy cheque to be income-based, but the VLD fear that middle-income earners will subsequently miss out.
The issue will be up for discussion at Friday's Cabinet meeting, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Tuesday.
And in an interview with magazine 'Humo' Di Rupo has also accused the VLD of "poisoning" the government. However, VLD chairman Bart Somers reacted laconically: "He is letting some steam off".
And Di Rupo said the government will survive if it can come to an agreement on several important dossiers, namely boosting employment, increasing purchasing power and ensuring that social security can be financed.
An agreement must be reached before 11 October, the day on which the Belgian government issues its policy declaration, newspaper 'Het Laatste Nieuws' reported.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news