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Belgium's government will next week decide whether to adopt a plan backed by secretary of state for IT, Peter Vanvelthoven, to offer subsidised broadband-enabled PCs to disadvantaged groups in the country.

The government is considering reimbursing VAT on PCs in the scheme. The PCs will be at least 41 per cent cheaper than regular PCs, retailing for about €850, according to reports in the Belgian press. The PC industry itself will also offer a discount of at least 29 per cent.

The Belgian government wants to target groups in society that do not have money to buy a fully fledged PC and do not pay income tax, such as housewives, seniors and students. Those who obtain a PC under the scheme will also receive training.

The cheap PC will include an ID card reader. Vanvelthoven is the driving force behind the electronic ID cards that some 350,000 Belgians now have. The Belgian government is one of the first European countries to pioneer mass ID cards.®

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