June 18, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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The government examined a newspaper distribution concession: ‘If we pay an awful lot, it will have an effect’

The government examined a newspaper distribution concession: ‘If we pay an awful lot, it will have an effect’

© Marc Hermans – Media House

The federal government gets the franchise to distribute newspapers that are audited by the Court of Accounts and an external auditor. It was agreed in the budget to save 50 million euros, but if the revisions show that everything has gone wrong, it may be a lot more for the Liberals. It seems that “if it turns out we’ve paid way too much money for it for years, that will have an effect.”

Arnott Gissels

Savings on a newspaper distribution franchise are sure to be made. The question is basically how much. The federal government allocates 175 million euros each year to support the distribution of newspapers and magazines. When preparing the budget, the Federal Government decided to provide 50 million euros. Meanwhile, many corpses fell out of the treasury.

Bpost CEO Dirk Tirez was even forced to resign when an internal audit revealed that illegal market agreements may have been made between Bpost, smaller distributor PPP, and the publishers on file. Meanwhile, the court also conducted house searches at the DPG publishing house and the judicial investigation is still ongoing. Anyway, bpost has been able to win the franchise for many years without any problems. Because the government had written the tender all along to fit the position, according to the charlatans.

“Very optimistic”

Therefore, the senior federal ministers decided at heart to thoroughly review the concessions of recent years. The Audit Bureau and the external auditor must audit the contracts of recent years. “If it turns out we’ve been paying too much for years,” the liberals say, “it will have an effect.”

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But nevertheless they are at odds with B. s. and Minister of Economy Pierre-Yves Derman. He already strongly defended the scheme during budget discussions, when Open VLD actually wanted to get rid of the subsidy. And so far PS can be heard that there is some rush to the new tender.

© BELGA

The current bid will expire by the end of the year. The new regulation should receive the go-ahead from Europe and the procedure should be able to start quickly. If Bpost loses its franchise, there is also a six-month notice period in the contract. So no time to lose. If it depends on Dermagne, the federal government will make decisions quickly. He wants to be able to start his bid by the next position on Friday.

This now sounds very optimistic to liberals. “You may already be able to take some steps in the preparation, but it is not appropriate to put out a tender as long as we do not know what this audit will achieve,” says a government source. Who knows, we might have to go back to that.

point of contention

The favorable arrangement for the distribution of newspapers was a point of contention for some time. The opposition party N-VA has been dealing with it for some time and favors scrapping the entire system. MR President Georges-Louis Boches proposed to remove the distribution of weekly newspapers from the system and thus save €50 million. They are read more often than newspapers on paper. In any case, the price difference between digital and digital paper can rise again.

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And then the question remains as to whether Bpost will be able to sustain newspaper circulation if the flow of support continues to dry up. They are also in financial difficulties there.

Read also. Barely a year and a half after its previous CEO, Bpost has fired the CEO again following allegations of fraud