Brussels, 02 Sep 2005
The regional government of Wallonia in Belgium has unveiled plans to regenerate the region's economy with 1.4 billion euro. A total of 150 million has been earmarked for research.
Wallonia, the southern, French-speaking region of Belgium, has seen stagnation in recent years, one reason being its reliance on steel production for revenue. Steel firms have had to make workers redundant, and unemployment has been almost double that of Flanders, Belgium's northern region, in recent decades.
The Walloon government therefore intends to inject special resources into the region until 2010. The 1.4 billion euro has been generated through a variety of sources, including 200 million that is expected to be raised when the government sells half of its shares in steel company Arcelor.
Some 280 million euro will be invested in four or five of Wallonia's most competitive industries. The region's Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe, has said that the health, pharmaceutical and farm produce sectors will definitely receive support, while electrical mechanics and the aeronautical industry have also been shortlisted.
The government is also seeking to attract entrepreneurs to the regions with 100 million euro of tax incentives.