Following the meeting of the restricted Council of Ministers, extended to the ten political groups supporting the Federal Government, a series of support measures were agreed for the third part of the Federal Plan for Social and Economic Protection.
The first “package” refers to the measures that had already been adopted by the federal government and that will be extended beyond their initial deadline. The most important measures are:
- Temporary unemployment due to force majeure “Corona”
- The transition right for self-employed workers
- Parental leave Corona
These measures are extended until 31st August.
Other measures are also extended, such as the suspension of the progressive reduction of the unemployment benefits, the package of measures destined to artists, the subsidy of 3 million euros to the CPAS in the framework of food aid and the allowances linked to the donations of IT material for schools.
Four specific support measures have been identified for the sectors in difficulty, including HoReCa, to cushion the socio-economic consequences of a gradual recovery in their activity. These are:
- An extension and upgrade of the transition right until 31st August 2020 and extendable until 31st December 2020
- At the same time, an extension of the temporary unemployment until 31st December 2020
- In order to enable hotel and restaurants to improve their financial situation, a reduction of VAT to 6% until 31st December 2020 on all provisions of services, except alcoholic drinks
- In the most affected sectors that have been forced to use the temporary unemployment, an agreement has been reached to grant a partial exemption from the payment of the withholding tax on salary income for the next three months, in order to encourage the return of workers who are currently in temporary unemployment.
With respect to the solvency of companies, the bank guarantee measure will be extended. The arrangements for extending the scope of the intervention to SMEs will be discussed in the Parliament shortly. The proposals for supporting artists will also be discussed next week.
The purchasing power of Belgians was also at the centre of the discussion. The intention of the meeting parties was to create a positive dynamic, first of all in favour of citizens, but also in favour of the country’s economic activity.
- The employer may grant a 300 euro Consumption voucher to the sectors most affected by the crisis to buy goods and services in sectors such as the hotel industry, culture, etc. This voucher will be 100% deductible and tax free.
- A complementary social aid of 6×50 euros (monthly) to the beneficiaries of a social integration income, disabled people and pensioners who benefit from the Grapa. This exceptional aid to the most vulnerable families will enable them to cope with their difficulties.
- All residents in Belgium can benefit from a 10-trip rail pass (SNCB) valid from 1st July to 31st December 2020. The additional cost of the bicycle will be temporarily cancelled.
In addition, it has been agreed to provide additional support to the CPAS through a further temporary increase in the refund rate of 15% on the federal intervention.
In addition to this first package of measures that has been agreed, the ten parties agreed to continue discussions to identify additional support measures that could usefully complement this first package.