Belgian Floods: ‘Will take up to two years to relocate everyone’
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Belgian Floods: ‘Will take up to two years to relocate everyone’

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Wallonia’s Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo (Parti Socialiste), pledged on Saturday to find the means to support persons affected by this month’s floods, but warned that “it will take one to two years to relocate everyone.”

In his first extensive interview with various media on the floods and their consequences for Wallonia, he also came out against the idea of a commission of inquiry.

“The situation on the ground is very complicated,” Mr. Di Rupo said in the interview, carried by l’Écho and Le Soir. “In Perpinster or Trooz, there is no more administration, there are no more services. There is no more telephone. There are no more computers.”

“Quite a few people who are staying in hotels or with families now need to be relocated,” he noted. “Solutions need to be found because reconstruction will take at least a year and a half, even two years.”

According to Mr. Di Rupo, 7% of Wallonia’s territory is in a flood zone. “We’ve had help from the army, civil protection, the national crisis centre,” he said. “We are working on tax rebates for any donations that businesses and citizens may be able to make, namely through the disaster fund. We are working on modalities for reducing VAT on all restoration and reconstruction work.”

“All the contacts that I’ve had so far with [Prime Minister] Alexander De Croo have resulted in action,” he added.

Could the Federal Government intervene? “Maybe less with liquid cash than by creating good conditions for raising funds,” the Walloon Prime Minister said. “I also wish to contact the European Investment Bank.”

On the question of a parliamentary commission of inquiry, Mr. Di Rupo indicated that it would be of little use. “Objectively, what would a commission of inquiry do other than interfere with a legal inquiry?” he wondered. “It seems normal in a democracy for there to be a special commission to question given stakeholders, but where the investigation is concerned, please let us allow the third estate to work and await the results.

Turning once again to the tragic events of the past few weeks – the floods linked to the reality of climate change – Elio Di Rupo urged Wallonia to take care of itself financially and stand on its own two feet.”

“I urge everyone who is going to work on these (institutional, Editor’s note) reforms to bear firmly in mind that we have a Brussels Region in excellent health and a Wallonia that can have all the resources needed to blossom out, particularly internationally,” he stressed.

The Brussels Times