Subsidies in Flanders: where does the taxpayer's money go?  - Economic policy

Subsidies in Flanders: where does the taxpayer’s money go? – Economic policy

Annually, Flanders distributes more than 13 billion euros in various subsidies to companies and associations. With a register accessible to all, it now plays transparency in a field that has long remained opaque.

This is an indirect fallout from the excitement aroused in Flanders by the fall of Sihame El Kaouakibi, an elected Open Vld suspected of having lavishly abused the subsidies allocated to Let’s Go Urban, a non-profit organization responsible for helping young people from disadvantaged areas. The idea of ​​creating a database containing all the subsidies allocated…

This is an indirect fallout from the excitement aroused in Flanders by the fall of Sihame El Kaouakibi, an elected Open Vld suspected of having lavishly abused the subsidies allocated to Let’s Go Urban, a non-profit organization responsible for helping young people from disadvantaged areas. The idea of ​​setting up a database containing all the subsidies allocated by Flanders was already included in the 2014 government agreement, but everyone was dithering. The Let’s Go Urban affair has revived the mechanics. A year later, the promised database is operational. Anyone can forage there in complete transparency and see where their tax money is going. With the help of artificial intelligence, the Flemish government will thus be able to better detect possible fraud and abuse while having a remarkable management tool which should considerably modify the current subsidy policy. Sectors, populations or regions can be better targeted and a few clicks should now avoid any overlap. Some organizations indeed manage to multiply the channels through which the subsidies reach them and it is not uncommon to see a local authority subsidize a project already supported at the regional level. With this new database, Mathias Diependaele, Minister of Finance, hopes to fuel the debate on the effectiveness of subsidies. Not all are equally useful. “We often tend to solve problems with subsidies and reward successes in the same way,” he admits. But at what level should this debate be taken? In Parliament? This is in any case the wish of the Open Vld Maurits Vande Reyde who regrets that in this area, Parliament is too often put out of play.

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