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VAT cut could make Belgian public transport cheaper
Belgium's mobility minister Georges Gilkinet is proposing that the country abolish the VAT currently charged on all public transport tickets.
"The train and public transport are a way to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels," Gilkinet said. "It is good for the economy and the environment. I want to encourage Belgians to take the train."
On a €10 train ticket, this would save €0.57. Considering that the 6% VAT currently charged is quite low in practice, Gilkinet was asked if eliminating it would be more of a symbolic gesture than a practical one.
"It's one of the things that will help to increase the number of public transport users," he said. "The train must become the backbone of mobility.
"When you fly, there is no excise duty on fuel. The least we can do, after the summer we are experiencing, is to apply the same type of measures to taking the train."
The mobility minister said the abolition of the VAT would be part of a package of measures that also includes seasonal train tickets for part-time workers.
He also expressed an ambition to lower prices overall in order to incentivise more train use, aiming for tickets that are eventually entirely free.
Gilkinet praised Spanish and German measures that make trains truly accessible, pointing out that in Belgium they are also working on "improving the quality of service".
For now the proposal - which would apply to the SNCB and regional public transport operators Stib, De Lijn and Tec - remains under discussion. It would cost an estimated €100 million per year in lost tax revenues.