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Five stories you may have missed

Five stories you may have missed

by LT STAFF 4 min. 23.05.2020 From our online archive
In case you missed them, the Luxembourg Times has selected five top news stories of the week for you
PHOTO: Pierre Matge
PHOTO: Pierre Matge

Hundreds of extra staff hired for primary school reopening

Luxembourg has recruited hundreds of extra staff to help out at primary schools and alleviate parents' and teachers' concerns that sending young children back to school after weeks of lockdown poses a health risk.

The youngest pupils will make their way back to school on Monday, following secondary school children who returned earlier this month. But the government plan hasn't come without controversy.

Luxembourg splashes out money, hotel vouchers to help businesses

In just two months, Luxembourg has coughed up seven times more money than it normally does in a year to help small and medium-sized companies survive the health crisis, the government said on Friday.

Government measures range from €100,000 in direct aid to any company that has suffered a 25% loss in revenues, plus a monthly amount depending on the number of employees for a maximum of three months. "We have already paid €100 million up to now," said Lex Delles, minister for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

On Monday, the government will assess when restaurants, bars and hotels will reopen, Delles said, and is likely to announce a date next week.

Over the next two months, starting on Monday, Luxembourg will test its entire population.

People who work in very close contact with others, such as healthcare and childcare workers, police officers and hairdressers, will be the first to be tested, followed by people who are returning to their jobs and then the entire population will be able to get tested.

Pandemic delays digital tax talks, OECD tax czar says

Global efforts to let multinationals pay tax in countries where they do business are slowing

The pandemic is draining government coffers around the world and will delay widely advertised new rules to stop tax avoidance by multinationals, the man running the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s tax reform efforts said in an interview.

With the plan for a so-called digital tax, a group of 137 countries wants to reform tax law to make it ready for the digital economy of the 21st century, and stop large companies from paying little or no tax at all through setting up complex corporate structures.

But the ambitious undertaking – which consists of 15 different projects – now risks running into serious delays because governments are too busy fighting the coronavirus, Pascal Saint-Amans said.

ECB buys bonds of Radovan Vitek's property firm CPI

The European Central Bank bought a substantial part of bonds issued by Czech billionaire Radovan Vitek’s CPI Property Group, a firm whose most prominent assets Luxembourg’s financial regulator has found Vitek had stripped off their legal owners.

The ECB bought bonds issued by one of the largest landlords in Eastern Europe on Tuesday, 12 May, according to the bank’s weekly disclosure of its assets under its so-called pandemic emergency purchase programme.

The size of the transaction amounted to €112 million, a Czech newspaper reported, representing 15% of the total volume of the bond. The Luxembourg Times could not independently establish the number.

Luxembourg's financial regulator, the Comité de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), has found Vitek - who owns 91% of CPI’s capital - guilty of illegally acquiring assets of Orco Property Group, a Luxembourg-based real estate firm worth millions of euros, by concerted action through dozens of strawmen and shell companies.

Experts ponder over ArcelorMittal's rare wealth of tax detail

ArcelorMittal would have paid Luxembourg’s government more than €1.5 billion in taxes over the past three years if its activities were assessed only according to rates expressed in national law.

But the Luxembourg-based steel giant almost certainly did not pay its home country that much, given that its total global tax payments in the same period also were about €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion), according to the company's annual report, which it published in March.

The report shows the difference between tax rates that nations set for corporations to pay, and what they actually pay - a level of detail that left experts the Luxembourg Times spoke to guessing.

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