Wallonia unveils EUR 1.4bn 'Marshall Plan'
30 August 2005, BRUSSELS – Belgium's regional government in Wallonia on Tuesday unveiled the details of a EUR 1.4 billion action plan to regenerate the French-speaking region.
30 August 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgium's regional government in Wallonia on Tuesday unveiled the details of a EUR 1.4 billion action plan to regenerate the French-speaking region.
Wallonia has suffered stagnation in recent years, with the steel crisis hitting it badly and companies such as steel firm Arcelor continuing to cut jobs in traditional industries.
Unemployment during the last few decades has been almost double that in Flanders, as wealth has moved to the north of the country.
On Tuesday, the Walloon government outlined its rescue plan to inject special resources into the region from here until 2010.
The Belgian media have dubbed it 'the Marshall Plan' – the aid package the Americans funded to reconstruct war-torn Europe – borrowing a phrase from Socialist PS Elio Di Rupo who recently called for a Marshall Plan for the region.
The government said the EUR 1.4 billion had been generated through a variety of sources, including through EUR 200 million of budget savings and EUR 200 million, expected to be made through Wallonia selling half of its shares in Arcelor.
The Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe said "at least" a billion would be spent. However, up to EUR 1.4 billion is expected to be injected into the Wallonian economy over the next four years.
Some EUR 280 million is specifically targeted at four or five of Wallonia's most competitive industries.
Van Cauwenberghe said health and the pharmaceutical sectors and the farm produce industry would definitely receive extra support.
The government is still debating whether the electrical mechanics and aeronautical industries should also receive part of the funding.
A total of EUR 150 million has been earmarked for research while EUR 300 million is to be spent on creating business activity and attracting new business through building new industrial parks and cleaning up old industrial land.
Wallonia also intends to spend EUR 150 million on training, particularly targeting residents struggling to get their first job and critical sectors which have high numbers of job vacancies.
In a bid to attract entrepreneurs into the region, the government has announced EUR 100 million in tax incentives.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news