News in brief: 2 October 2013
Culture and environment minister announces funding for museums and green spaces in Flemish cities, and rail authority to study ruling on compensation for delays
News in brief: 2 October 2013
China was behind the recent cyber-attacks on the Belgian prime minister’s office and the ministry of foreign affairs, according to a report from the intelligence services. The office of state security said it would continue monitoring the activities of the Chinese closely. The government has not yet issued a response to the report.
The Christian workers’ movement ACW failed to pay about €2.4 million in tax on income in 2010 of €8 million from the former Dexia bank, according to the special fiscal inspection service. The ACW used the income to pay staff members via a subsidiary, which the inspectors contested. The organisation has one month to provide answers to the inspectors’ complaints.
Flemish public transport authority De Lijn has begun issuing Mobib cards – travel passes containing an electronic chip – to the over-65s in Flanders. The cards cost €5 and allow seniors free travel on all De Lijn buses and trams. Seniors without a Mobib card have to pay the regular fare.
The rail authority NMBS said it would closely study a ruling issued last week by the European Court of Justice that says that rail companies are obliged to compensate passengers for delays of an hour or more, even in cases where these are the result of circumstances beyond the company’s control, such as weather conditions. The ruling was issued in a case concerning the Austrian rail authority, but its provisions apply across the EU.
Three men accused of killing three members of a family during a home-jacking in Wemmel in 2010 have been found guilty by a court in Brussels. Two of the suspects were each sentenced to 29 years, while a third man, who never entered the house, received 20 years. The killers had demanded the keys to a Mercedes parked in the driveway, but, during an argument, shots were fired.
Environment minister Joke Schauvliege has approved funding of €50,000 each for four projects that bring more green space into cities. From a field of 20, the projects chosen are in Vorselaar, Antwerp province, Veurne in West Flanders, Maldegem in East Flanders and Rotselaar in Flemish Brabant. They include park renovation, green spaces in town centres and the integration of sports facilities.
Patients at the Sint-Elisabeth hospital in Herentals, Antwerp province, will be issued with a GPS-enabled badge allowing staff to keep track of their location at all times. The system will allow outpatients to wait for their appointments elsewhere than in the waiting room, while patients undergoing various treatments can be tracked throughout the hospital. The new system will also include a screen showing the actual waiting times for patients with appointments.
Dany Ilegems has been made the new editor of the weekly magazine Humo, replacing Karel Degraeve, who was standing in temporarily after the departure of Wouter Van Driessche . Ilegems is best known as an investigative journalist responsible for a number of major scoops in the 1990s. He has been involved in a number of new or relaunch ventures, including MaoMagazine, Feeling and Goedele. He is the sixth editor to head up the ailing weekly since 2010.
Antwerp Tourism & Conventions and Visit Flanders are inviting members of the public to participate in a contest to win a trip to the fashion city, including meals in top restaurants and a meet-and-greet with well-known designers. Entrants have to create a fashion mood-board with an Antwerp twist using only Instagram images.
The University of Hasselt is ready to take on the job of offering more courses, particularly in medicine and the sciences, rector Luc De Schepper said in a speech opening the academic year. According to figures released last week, 38% fewer young people from Limburg graduate from higher education, compared to students from other provinces, leading to what De Schepper called “a brain drain”.
Finance minister Philippe Muyters last weekend launched a smartphone app to help buyers and sellers in the second-hand car market calculate registration tax. The app is a result of concerns from motoring organisation VAB that most buyers of used cars have no idea how much BIV – the one-off tax paid when putting a car on the road – they will be charged. Muyters said he was also looking at making the BIV rate mandatory in advertisements. The BIV VKB app is available free from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
Authorities at Brussels Airport have given the go-ahead for 10,000 fans to go on to the tarmac on 1 October to wave out the Red Devils football team as they fly to Zagreb for the decisive World Cup qualifier against Croatia.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons