Coronavirus: Brussels moves to support struggling businesses

Coronavirus: Brussels moves to support struggling businesses
The city is taking a first set of measures to help businesses through the coronavirus crisis. Credit: Pixabay

The City of Brussels will take financial measures to support businesses in the city affected by the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, economic affairs councilman Fabian Maingain announced on Friday.

These are the first economic measures to be announced by the city since the whole country went into lockdown on 18 March.

Translation: Economic support measures: the City of Brussels announces the suspension of commercial rent and certain taxes. A first series of measures that will be reinforced later.

Under the new measures, rent will not be collected for April or May for businesses renting from the city or from the public centres for social welfare (CPAS), which provide social services for citizens.

At the same time, neither markets nor kiosks or travelling salespeople will have to pay taxes. The annual terrace fee will also be reduced by 50% to support the hotel, restaurant and café sector. Finally, the city will provide administrative support for the paperwork involved in applying for the new measures.

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Next steps include debt relief and the development of a recovery plan, according to Maingain. "All this will have a major impact on municipal finances. It will, therefore, be necessary for the Brussels Region, following the example of the Walloon Region, to be able to help the municipalities in the financing of local measures," Maingain said.

"We will obviously do what we can to help our shopkeepers. With this first draft of immediate measures, we intend to support them in these difficult times. For the future, we will work with all the authorities in the country to find appropriate solutions," commented Brussels Mayor Philippe Close.

As the Belgian government's far-reaching measures have brought life in Brussels to a standstill, the coronavirus crisis has already caused the federal budget deficit to rise to over €30 billion, as was estimated on Thursday. 

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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