"We are not proud of it, but evading taxes is necessary to survive"

The organisation representing the hospitality industry in Belgium, Horeca Vlaanderen, says that restaurant and pub owners are forced not to declare at least a part of their income to the taxman. "It's the only way to make a profit."

Horeca Vlaanderen made this statement after it turned out that Euro Tap Control (ETC), the biggest company for cash register systems in Belgium, gave dozens of restaurant and café owners tips about how to commit fraud. Some 30 employees of ETC made confessions as they were questioned by police.

ETC supplied automatic cash register systems, but explained restaurant and pub landlords how they could tamper with the software to be able to reduce turnover figures without leaving a trace. Most pubs and restaurants failed to declare some 20 percent of their turnover to the Belgian state.

Danny Van Assche of Horeca Vlaanderen told the VRT that "we are not proud of this, but it's a daily practice which is necessary for restaurants and pubs to make a profit, in a country where labour costs are so high."

As from 1 January 2014, a so-called black box should be installed which should make it impossible to commit any kind of fraud. Mr Van Assche is afraid that many pubs and restaurants will go bankrupt.