The new Belgian tax shelter for film investment is finally set to become operational, putting Belgium into the front-ranks of "hot" territories for film production.

The scheme, which has been working its way through a maze of administrative and legal hurdles, yesterday passed the last major legislative hurdle on its way to becoming law.

A group of delegates from the four political parties that make up the governing coalition announced that the government will approve four recent amendments to the tax shelter statutes - effectively giving producers and investors the incentives they need to use the new system.

Technically, the tax shelter, which had an official start date of 1 January, still needs to be voted on by the federal parliament in about six weeks time. But this is now a formality given the coalition parties' support.

"The amendments should open the floodgates to investors who have until now been on the sidelines waiting for the law to be modified," said Alexandre Lippens, a partner at Scope Invest, a specialist financial advisor which helped draft the latest amendments.

The scheme permits reductions in corporate tax bills in return for guarantees on production spending in Belgium. Investors are able to enjoy a 150% corporation tax reduction against their investment, while producers have to spend 150% of the equity portion of the investment in Belgium.

While there is a Euros 750,000 ceiling on any single investment plan, a large-budget film can combine several schemes.

The tax-shelter does not set any language or nationality restrictions on a production. That should allow the tax shelter to be combined with incentives from other countries and for Belgium to attract an increasing number of foreign pictures and co-productions. But the strictures on where money is spent will make it tricky to combine with some other countries, such as Canada or Ireland, which impose similar restrictions.