Limburg remains 'dislocated zone' until 31 October 2024
The core federal cabinet has decided to extend the 'dislocated zone Limburg' scheme until 31 October 2024. This was reported by Het Belang van Limburg on Saturday. The extension of the tax benefit should keep Limburg attractive for employers for the next two years.
On 18 December 2014, Ford's car plant in Genk had to close its doors. More than 4,000 people lost their jobs in the process. At the time, Ford Genk was one of the largest employers in the Limburg region. To cope with this loss, the region was recognised as a support zone or 'dislocated zone' on 30 April 2015. It represented a tax benefit that would apply for two years. Since then, the region could count on an extension. Also now, the federal core cabinet has decided that Limburg can continue to enjoy the favourable investment climate until the end of October 2024.
"Thanks to this new extension, entrepreneurs will receive a 25 percent exemption from withholding tax for each new hire for another two years, good for a labour cost saving of 4 to 5 percent. The condition, however, is that this additional job is maintained for at least three years (SMEs) or five years (large enterprises). The support also applies when taking over a company that would otherwise disappear," Flemish minister of Work Jo Brouns told Het Belang van Limburg. "With this, we continue to guarantee a favourable investment climate in Limburg."
For Limburg, the favourable measure has proved effective in boosting investment and employment in recent years. During 2015-2022, 987 investment files were submitted, of which 499 were in Limburg and 488 in the Kempen region. These were accompanied by 11,458 new jobs, of which 6,892 in Limburg.
The scheme applies to all SMEs in Limburg and to all large enterprises with 250 or more employees located in one of the 19 municipalities included in the regional aid map finalised by the Flemish government last year. It includes all industrial estates, brownfields and business centres within a 40-km radius of Ford Genk, around the affected Philips and Heinz sites in Turnhout and around the municipality of Machelen.
"After the corona crisis, now the war in Ukraine is putting strong pressure on the business climate, with a greater risk of bankruptcies and postponement of investments and recruitment," minister Brouns said. "The removal of this support measure could therefore have an additional negative impact on investments in Limburg and Kempen. We must not let that happen, especially as the labour market in the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg is still less favourable than in the rest of Flanders," Brouns concluded.
© BELGA PHOTO YORICK JANSENS - GENK, BELGIUM: Ford employees pictured after the final production day at the factory of Ford, in Genk, Thursday 18 December
2014. The closure was announced by Ford Europe in 2012.