The Finance Commission of the Chamber of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill on the mobility allowance, also known as ‘Cash for Car’. According to a conservative estimate by Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt, implementing the measure could reduce the number of cars in Belgium by 15,000. He also said an assessment would be conducted.
The bill is one of the points on the Federal Government’s Summer Agreement. To fight against vehicle congestion, it offers the possibility to employees who have had company cars for a long time to give it back in exchange for a “mobility allowance” that will have the same advantageous tax and social status as the company car. The allowance will be based on the list price of the vehicle and will be indexed annually.
According to various studies, the measure’s success will be limited. A report from the Federal Mobility Department estimates that between 3% and 9% of households could opt for this system and hand in their cars. This means 15,000 to 50,000 households can be expected to give up their vehicles.
While the Finance Commission has approved the bill, the social partners have given the green light to the introduction of a “mobility budget”, an annual allowance that the employer could give a worker as an alternative to a company car. In this case, the employee would replace his/her car by friendlier means of transport or would buy a smaller car and combine it with public transport.
The mobility allowance does not exclude the mobility budget, the ruling majority says. In fact, technical working groups are studying the proposals of the social partners and the Government is to discuss it when they hand in their conclusions, Van Overtveldt (New Flemish Allowance, N-VA) said.
However, the opposition is not convinced. Congressman Georges Gilkinet (Ecologists) had submitted amendments for integration into the “mobility budget” in the bill, but these were rejected.
Questions continue to be asked about the legal safety of the measure and its effectiveness, Stéphane Crusnière (Socialist Party) noted, recalling serious objections from the State Council.
“If there is something that you find nice in this draft, it’s the ‘cash’, doubtless because electorally, it’s worth a bit of money,” Benoît Dispa (Humanist Democratic Centre, cdH) told the majority, “but concerning the mobility issue, making things simpler for businesses and social harmony, a beautiful opportunity has been lost.”