Embassy sale to make up budget shortfall
19 September 2006
BRUSSELS — There are seven potential buyers lining up to purchase the Belgian embassy in Tokyo, a sale that would help close a federal government budgetary shortfall.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry will assess the offers of potential buyers in coming weeks.
Negotiations about the sale conditions will then take place and the federal Cabinet will make the final decision.
And that decision could still take place this year, the Interior Ministry said.
If the embassy building is sold by the end of the year, the sale would be a bonus for the federal budget.
The embassy is valued at more than EUR 100 million. It is a green oasis in the crowded city centre of the Japanese capital.
Plans to sell the embassy have been regularly discussed over the past decade, but never carried out.
However, the overdue sale could now help make up the 2006 budgetary shortfall.
It was revealed last week that budget estimates made in July were based on incorrect data from the Finance Ministry.
The error suddenly delivered Budget Minister Freya Van den Bossche a deficit of almost EUR 1 billion for the 2006 Budget.
The most optimistic government officials hope that several financial bonuses can close the budgetary hole.
The largest bonus, however, appears to be the sale of the Tokyo embassy.
The definitive 2006 and 2007 budgets need to be drawn up by 10 October, when Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt will deliver his annual policy statement.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news