Carrefour Belgium has not received regional Walloon assistance, as far as research into the issue, carried out over recent years, shows. The Walloon Minister for Economy and Employment, Pierre-Yves Jeholet, said this on Thursday, when questioned upon the subject in the Walloon Economy-Employment Parliamentary Committee.
Numerous deputies sought to know if the mass distribution group, which last week announced a restructuring plan across Belgium placing 1,233 jobs under threat, had benefited from Walloon employment or research assistance or from investment incentives, and whether guarantees for maintaining jobs were in any way linked to such assistance being available.
The MR minister responded, “To my knowledge, and insofar as research has been conducted into this, there are no cases of such regional assistance at Carrefour.” He made no comment upon the notional interest element, which is a federal responsibility.
The mechanism of free zones has recently enabled companies to enjoy a reduction of 25% in salary deductions, such as national insurance, in respect of all jobs created. The minister emphasised that, bearing this in mind, “we must examine what will be considered as new jobs.” He has not ruled out the possibility of this potential avenue of interest for employers who might take on redundant Carrefour workers.
Regional players in the spheres of employment and training (such as Forem, VDAB and Actiris) were commissioned from Friday onwards to develop a social emergency plan in this regard. They will meet again on February 7th on this matter, and must set out this draft plan to regional ministers on February 19th.
Mr Jeholet was responding to Walloon deputies during a meeting of the Economy-Employment Parliamentary Committee of the Walloon parliament, convened urgently to discuss the Carrefour situation.