While the sector is experiencing a 95% loss of turnover and fears hundreds of bankruptcies, the support measures remain below par. The Flemish taxi companies recorded a fall in turnover of more than 40 million euros in the past month. Many of them fear GTL extension the bankruptcy. Their constructive proposals to still be able to keep their heads above water receive little or no support from the Flemish Government. A straight jaw blow for an essential link in the fight against COVID-19.
From the taxis in the cities, to the many airport and passenger services commissioned by companies, for the majority of these companies, the Covid-19 pandemic means an almost complete cessation of their activities. Since the start of the lock down, the cumulative loss of turnover of the 5.937 licensed Flemish taxis has been estimated at more than 40 million euros.
compensation premium is not sufficient
The compensation premium and temporary unemployment granted are not sufficient to ease the pain. Because the sector is also confronted with the impact of the new Taxi Decree. That decree and its implementing decree implement total deregulation, which puts additional pressure on profitability. Time for action in the taxi sector at the Flemish Government. In those very difficult circumstances, in which many drivers who endanger their own health - commute to and from work by hospital staff and drivers of public transport companies or port personnel - the sector asked for a number of targeted measures at the end of March.
A postponement of the introduction or revision of the Flemish environmental standards for new vehicles by using the Euro standard, instead of the Ecoscore. The new taxi decree has introduced the much stricter eco score as a standard since 1 January. This not only makes the purchase of new vehicles much more expensive, it also creates a great deal of concern among taxi companies, which are unable to determine with certainty whether a vehicle is actually compliant.
An abolition of the annual fee for taxi and FVO permits in 2020, as has now also been implemented in the Brussels-Capital Region. However, the taxi sector concludes from recent statements by Flemish Minister of Mobility Lydia Peeters in the Committee on Mobility and Public Works of the Flemish Parliament that this Flemish Government is not really concerned about its problems. According to Minister Peeters, a delay of 4 months would be considered for the eco scores for the vehicles.
"If this is a joke, it's a very bad one," replicates Pierre Steenbergen, Secretary General of the Federation of GTL Taxi and Car Rental Services. We are talking here about hundreds of SMEs that don't know if they will be there next year. Offering them a 4 month reprieve for the purchase of much more expensive cars is a real shame. "We must remain serious."
Pierre Steenberghen hopes for real support measures
Pierre Steenberghen wonders why this is possible in Brussels and not in Flanders. Sliding the problems under the mat is not a solution. The proposed measures will certainly not undermine the achievement of the Flemish climate objectives and the Flemish public finances. However, they can make the difference for hundreds of Flemish entrepreneurs, thousands of Flemish drivers and their families.
"I hope that this Flemish Government will still show its human face and take real support measures for a sector that has contributed to the fight against the COVID-19 virus," said Pierre Steenberghen.