Wallonia in road tax U-turn
14 September 2005, BRUSSELS – The Wallonia government drew back on Wednesday from a controversial move to charge drivers for using the region's roads.
14 September 2005
BRUSSELS – The Wallonia government drew back on Wednesday from a controversial move to charge drivers for using the region's roads.
On Tuesday, minister Michel Daerden, who is responsible for Wallonia's road infrastructure, announced a plan for a EUR 25 tax disc from 1 January 2006.
The news immediately sparked criticism from road organisations and from politicians in Flanders who complained Flemish drivers would be paying an extra tax to improve Walloon roads.
In the eye of the storm, the cabinet of Wallonia's minister president, Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe, started to distance itself from Daerden. It was "unthinkable" that Belgium should have three different charging regimes for roads, said a spokesman on Tuesday evening.
Walloon transport minister Andre Antoine also argued that the region should reach an agreement with Flanders and Brussels for a common road tax.
"We must first of all discuss this project at the level of the Walloon government," he said.
Van Cauwenberghe's office added that the minister-president would wait for Daerden's report to the government on Thursday before making any comment.
The leader of the centre-right MR opposition, Serge Kubla, accused Daerden of being deliberately "provocative" towards transport firms at a time when petrol prices were soaring.
For his part, Daerden has been holding meetings with representatives from Flanders and Brussels to discuss the proposals. On Wednesday, his cabinet defended Daerden's announcement, though, insisting that before the announcement of the road disc, at previous meetings, the other regions had seemed positive about the discs.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news