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We also have to repay the billions in aid that are now being given out. This will undoubtedly weigh on the economy and Belgian citizens in the years to come, but Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) notes that this contract is successful. “The main challenge and responsibility is to ensure that citizens’ purchasing power remains high enough and healthy businesses are led through the crisis,” says Van Peteghem. At the same time, Horeca Vlaanderen needs a specific approach for the severely affected catering sector.
“Purchasing power remains stable because of the temporary unemployment system and the bridging loan. The companies are getting through the crisis and it is not bad in itself, “said the Federal Minister of Finance during the Corona debate. “The economy is now under a bell and at some point we have to remove it. We then have to consider the impact on bankruptcies and employment, ”says Van Peteghem.
Horeca Vlaanderen: “Work more precisely”
Bankruptcies will undoubtedly follow, also in the severely affected hospitality industry. That is why Matthias De Caluwe, CEO of Horeca Vlaanderen, advocates a more specific approach. “We have to move away from a general approach and work more specifically on those most affected. A reduction in VAT is an essential requirement for us. In the third quarter we found that the loss of sales for cafes and restaurants was limited due to the VAT reduction. But we also come to the fixed costs. From January we will have to make additional efforts for fixed costs, as these are 25 percent for us compared to 15 percent in other sectors, ”emphasizes De Caluwe.
VBO: “Attention to healthy businesses is also needed”
For Pieter Timmermans, CEO of the Belgian Business Association (FEB), the approach has to be broad enough. With due attention to healthy businesses that are less in the news now but where the reserves are being used. He advocates solvency measures. “I am not aware of any sector that is above zero. Every sector is more or less affected, but we can clearly see that catering and tourism are falling to minus 80 percent and that this needs to be addressed in a targeted manner. “
“It’s wider than that alone, however,” says Timmermans. “About 8 to 10 percent of companies, that’s about 50,000, are in the danger zone. They are well supported for their liquidity problems today, but one day you have to get rid of that. You are now seeing companies that have used up their buffers and reserves and therefore need to strengthen the capital structure. In other words, you need to move from liquidity to solvency. Then you will also support healthy companies, ”says the CEO of FEB.