DIRK WAEM / Belga

Corona government parties back new measures to boost the economy

The ten government and opposition parties that gave PM Wilmès’s administration special powers to combat the coronavirus pandemic have agreed new measures to support economic activity and the spending power of vulnerable groups in society.

Several existing measures will be extended. The furlough system that allows employees of businesses hit by the crisis to sign on for unemployment benefit for a temporary period is being extended until the end of August.  The system will run until the end of the year for workers in the hospitality, events and travel sectors.

Vulnerable people, e.g. the handicapped and people on minimum benefit (leefloon), will receive a 50 euro top up every month until the end of the year in order to boost their spending power.

VAT on goods and services in the hospitality industry is being cut to 6% for a limited period.  Moreover employees will receive a 300 euro cheque that can be spent in bars, restaurants or hotels or to buy tickets to attend organised events like shows and theatre performances.

Businesses hiring extra staff will be awarded a temporary cut in wage costs.  470 million euros has been earmarked for this measure alone.

Every Belgian resident will also receive a rail pass for ten journeys on NMBS Belgian rail between 1 July and 31 December.