Magnette: ‘No kilometer tax in Brussels before 2024’
“The Brussels city toll will certainly not be introduced during this legislature, not before 2024.” That is what Paul Magnette, President of the PS, says in the business newspaper L’Echo/De Tijd.
In a reaction, Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort (PS) says that “the Brussels government has submitted a project for this legislature, we will continue consultations.” The regional opposition speaks of cacophony in relation to the contradictory reports of the PS figureheads.
At the beginning of December, the Brussels Government concluded an agreement on SmartMove. At the time, it sounded that the region wanted to introduce this smart mileage charge from 2022.
After the Brussels Government’s decision, a storm of criticism flared up in Flanders, but also in Wallonia. Just like Open Vld and sp.a in the Flemish majority, the PS in Wallonia also opposed the tax. The kilometer charge is compensated for Brussels car owners by the abolition of the road tax and the BIV (tax on entry into service), but not for commuters from Flanders and Wallonia.
Long period of preparation
“Smart road-pricing will not be in place until 2024,” says Magnette now in L’Echo/De Tijd. “From the contacts I had with my friends in Brussels, I understand that this is for the next legislature. So, we have time. The aim is not to hit low incomes and those who can’t make a journey with much else but by car,” said Magnette. “A long period of preparation is, therefore, needed for everyone to adapt.”
The Brussels Prime Minister, Rudi Vervoort, seems to see things differently. He points out that the project, an initiative of the Greens, is included in the Brussels coalition agreement.
“In December, the Brussels government proposed a model that would be submitted for consultation,” his cabinet said. “After a meeting of the Consultation Committee, the Brussels region was asked to submit a working model to start these discussions. A first evaluation will be made at the end of March.”
The opposition in the Brussels Parliament did not fail to react to Paul Magnette’s remarks, as noted by press agency Belga. For the Brussels cdH, “such a statement adds cacophony and obscurity to a sensitive dossier.”
“So, we have a party president wiping his feet on the Brussels institution, its decisions, its 2021 budget, and its Minister-President. What an insult to democracy,” says Christophe De Beukelaer of the Christian-democratic and humanist French-speaking political party. “The double talk of the Socialist Party is unbearable,” announcing the tabling of a topical question for the Finance Committee on Monday 12 January.
For the PTB, the remarks made by Paul Magnette are the consequence of the petition launched by the communists against this kilometre tax project. “The next step will be to bury the project and put the money into social alternatives to the car, to help people and mobility instead of penalizing them,” said Youssef Mandichi.
The president of the Brussels MR, David Leisterh, also reacted. “Glad to see that we are being followed in our fight not to bring down the middle and weakest classes with an additional tax,” the liberal wrote ironically on Twitter.
“If companies tell themselves that they can strengthen their branches in Walloon or Flemish cities, everyone is a winner, said Paul Magnette. “This is precisely the smart move effect that the N-VA denounces,” says Flemish nationalist MP, Cieltje Van Achter. “Brussels loses if companies leave. I will question Rudi Vervoort because the position of the PS in this dossier is becoming incomprehensible.”