Minister owns up to oil cheque gaffe

25th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

25 January 2006, BRUSSELS – The government minister at the centre of an embarrassing row over heating subsidies has admitted to badly explaining a deal struck with the oil sector.

25 January 2006

BRUSSELS – The government minister at the centre of an embarrassing row over heating subsidies has admitted to badly explaining a deal struck with the oil sector.

Budget Minister Freya Van den Bossche continues to deny she lied over the EUR 100 million subsidy to compensate the public for the high cost of energy.

However, she told members of parliament on Tuesday she had been guilty of "a communication error". It was true, she admitted, that the government had signed a deal with 16 petroleum companies to return the money by 31 March.

If the government did not meet the deadline, it would face a 3 percent interest charge.

Since the row blew up last week, the opposition party and the media have pointed out that Van den Bossche had led everyone to think the money from oil companies was "extra" funding.

On Wednesday, the government continued to say it would repay the money but was continuing negotiations to convince petroleum firms to make a contribution.

So far, the government has not stated where it is going to find the EUR 100 million and whether consumer heating bills will go up as a result of the situation.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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