Self-scan checkout has only gained worldwide prominence in the past couple of years, Source: Freepik

Molenbeek introduces the first tax on supermarket self-checkouts in Belgium

Molenbeek introduces the first tax on supermarket self-checkouts in Belgium

The local mayor, Catherine Moureaux, argues that this practice disrupts social cohesion and causes job loss in her municipality

Today, the local council in the Brussels sub-municipality of Molenbeek introduced a tax on automated checkout machines. The tax will be as high as 5,600 euros per checkout machine and will be due this year, as RTBF reports.

This is the first time such a tax has been levied in Belgium, though automated checkout machines at supermarkets and shops are a fairly recent development in their current form. They have gained prominence across Europe in the past two years, with more and more shops cutting down on staff.

It is about social cohesion

One of the reasons for the tax, according to Catherine Moureaux, Mayor of Molenbeek, is that automated checkout machines are a bane to social cohesion. She explained that especially in areas where there are a lot of elderly people and the community relies very heavily on interacting at the shop.

Furthermore, she explains that this is a clear break in the contact between customers and workers, which could have profound social implications for the community and contribute to a lonelier urban experience.

It is also about money

Mayor Moureaux also explained that the tax is an attempt to compensate citizens in the municipality for their economic activity. She pointed out that economic actors in the municipality should contribute in a meaningful way.

With an automated checkout machine, customers bag, scan and pay for all their purchases. The shopper is invited to carry out some of the tasks previously done by employees, which means that he or she is, in a way, ‘working’. It also means that jobs in the area are disappearing.

According to her colleague, Alderman of Finance, Georges Van Leeckwyck, the local budget is faced with a lot of pressure from the myriad of crises rocking Europe these past few months. Thus, this could be a way for authorities to diversify their tax revenues.



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