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Cabinet cuts heating oil taxes to offset costs

9 September 2005

BRUSSELS — The Cabinet decided on Friday to allocate a 17.35 percent discount on BTW and excise taxes on domestic fuel oil bought in the second half of this year.

Economy Minister Marc Verwilghen stressed the EU would not raise objections to the decision, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.

The tax discount will remain in effect for the time that heating oil remains above 50 euro cents per litre. Many Belgian households use heating oil to warm their homes.

The cabinet eventually abandoned attempts to reach an agreement on paying every household a rebate to offset high energy costs.

The differences between the Socialist PS and Liberal VLD parties proved too great to reach consensus. The issue will be revisited at the start of 2006.

Low-income households can also benefit from a special government fund for heating oil. The amount they can apply for has been raised from EUR 150 to 195.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have signed a petition against the high costs of fuel.

The petition was organised by motorists association Touring, the Motorcycle Council (MCC) and the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG).

Touring spokeswoman Moniek Denhaen said the signatures were presented on Friday to Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Finance Minister Didier Reynders.

The petition was launched last week and 100,000 signatures were collected with the first week. By Friday morning there were 130,000 signatures.

“The response is enormous and exceeds our expectations. It is in any case an illustration that for many people, enough is really enough,” Denhaen said.

While the cabinet decided on Friday to reduce energy bills, Reynders said petroleum firms will have to accept monthly rather than upfront payments.

They should also do that without charging interest Reynders told Franophone radio station RTBf. This will amount to a EUR 40 million bill.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news