Representatives from the federal majority parties (New Flemish Alliance, Flemish Christian Democrats, Open Vld and MR), in the Panama Papers Inquiry Committee, have reached agreement on a recommendations report. This aims to fight fraud and tax evasion. Rob Van de Velde (New Flemish Alliance) and Roel Deseyn (Flemish Christian Democrats) wrote on Twitter, “The white smoke has risen.”
The Panama Papers Committee was implemented in spring 2016, when documents arising from a leak in Panama showed that tax fraud was organised on an international level, and that 732 Belgians were involved in it. So as to circumvent professional secrecy to which certain witnesses were subject, the committee was reconstituted as an inquiry committee.
After one year of committee operation, an agreement has now been reached upon a report containing recommendations, at least between the four majority parties. The New Flemish Alliance, the Flemish Christian Democrats, the MR and the Open Vld signed a 120-page document on Thursday. In this text, recommendations were set out in around one hundred articles.
Rob Van de Velde considers the Opposition may also find its way to agreeing the document. He stresses, “On some points, the governing parties and the Opposition do not agree, but I feel that these are minor points.” Roel Deseyn says that the majority has sought to reach a consensus during recent months, “but it was now time to take a realistic view.”
The committee meets again on Tuesday morning. Its President, Ahmed Laaouej (PS) is likely to take stock on the progress of the report, but he will now have to take account of the text proposed by the majority. The report and the recommendations must be approved later in the year on October 30th when the committee mandate ends.
However Luk Van Biesen (Open Vld) keeps saying that the actual report will be finished by the time of the post-summer recess speech by the Prime Minister, Charles Michel.