State Secretary for Economic Recovery Thomas Dermine has asked the Federal Government to cover half of the costs to repair the damage caused by the July floods, an amount equal to around €600 million.
Dermine, who is in charge of the recovery and strategic investments relating to the flood damage, will submit a note to the Council of Ministers on Monday asking the Federal Government to take charge of 50% of the financing of the regional infrastructures affected as part of the €1.2 billion joint solidarity fund, which will be managed by Belgium.
“I think that a real sense of urgency needs to be expressed. National unity cannot be satisfied with words. We have to take action,” Dermine told Le Soir.
Since the floods, the Walloon government faces a bill of at least €3 billion (this is accounting for the intervention made by insurance companies), but this amount could rise to €4 billion when taking into account the costs of cost of emergency interventions and damage repair.
According to figures quoted by Le Soir, Wallonia has invested a total of around €1.125 billion to cover reconstruction costs, including €998 million for communication routes, energy and telecommunication networks, €98 million for public tools (schools, hospitals, etc.), €10 million for cultural goods and heritage, €12 million for agriculture and €5 million for forests.
To cover these costs, the federal state and the regions concerned (including Flanders, where Limburg was impacted by the floods) would create an exceptional cooperation mechanism for a joint fund, whose resources would be managed by the Federal Government, while the planning and organisation of the refurbishments would be managed on a regional level.
Of this €1.2 billion, Dermine has said that the Federal Government would pay 50%, whilst the remaining cost would be covered by regional resources or aid obtained elsewhere, for example from the European Union, for which Wallonia has already put in a request.
According to Dermine, the Federal Government should intervene financially to refurbish local infrastructure – normally the responsibility of regional entities – because “the reconstruction of damaged infrastructures as well as the construction of new infrastructures that are more resilient to the risk of exceptional climatic events is a strategic issue of national importance.”
Just after the floods, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the flood victims could count on the government, which he said “would do everything possible to support the families and communities that have been affected.” Dermine argued it is time to make that solidarity concrete.
“We are facing a titanic job and national solidarity must play its part, as the Prime Minister himself has already indicated,” he said.
For how long the fund will be in place and which projects it will support remains to be defined. However, it has been made clear that it will only cover the repair and reconstruction of public infrastructure with a national benefit.