5,000 motorists still waiting for repayment of fines from 2018
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5,000 motorists still waiting for repayment of fines from 2018

Five thousand motorists who overpaid a motoring fine in 2018 are still waiting for the promised repayment, the VRT reports.

The problem dates back to March 2018, when a new website was launched to allow the payment of road traffic fines. However teething troubles with the new system meant some motorists mistakenly paid twice, or paid too much. When the problem was highlighted by a radio show last year, a government spokesperson promised any outstanding mistakes would be rectified “as soon as possible”. At that time there were 50,000 people waiting for a refund. Now, 5,000 people are still waiting.

In January last year, a spokesperson for the justice ministry said all refunds of over €500 had been made, and the rest would follow in a matter of weeks. Technical problems were blamed for the delay, an excuse that did not satisfy the federal ombudsman Guido Herman. “That cannot be a reason to keep the public waiting,” he said.

One year on, and the justice ministry has another excuse at the ready.

It’s normal that people don’t like having to wait so long,” said Edward Landtsheere, spokesperson for the ministry. “We also think it’s a pity. But the fact is that we have to investigate in these cases whether the criteria for a repayment are being met.”

And that is not all. Since 2018 the finance and justice ministries have been linked by computer to each other and to the federal police.

If there’s a request for repayment of a traffic fine, then the first thing we do is to check if the member of the public has any outstanding debts – an unpaid fine from the past, for example. If there is money owing, then that amount will be withheld from the sum to be reimbursed.”

The ministry now pledges to clear the backlog of repayments “in the coming months”. In the meantime, the federal ombudswoman, Catherine De Bruecker, has called on the government to provide better information to the public. “The biggest problem is the lack of information,” she said. “It’s not because a case is held up that the government no longer has to give people information.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times