The fifth phase of the cheap state loans program – launched when the effects of the pandemic started to become evident – has seen an unprecedented number of applications, illustrating the extent to which companies have suffered due to the health crisis as well as the favorable prospects for businesses that will only have to pay back 50% of the credit issued to them.
Up until Thursday afternoon, some 475,000 applications had been submitted for the ongoing stage of the program known as the “Deposit To Be Returned,” and this will grow further if the government decides to extend the process.
Nevertheless, a senior Finance Ministry official stressed that the sum to be disbursed will remain at 1.5 billion euros, which means that smaller loans will be disbursed in the fifth phase than in the fourth, when about 458,000 enterprises received a total of €2.2 billion.
Minister Christos Staikouras told ERT’s Proto Programma radio on Thursday that although some businesses are asking for an extension to the application deadline, others are insisting on the platform closing tomorrow, which would allow for the swift disbursement of resources within January. “That’s something we will assess [today] depending on how the interest of businesses evolves, and that has been very strong,” he pointed out, adding that if there is an extension it will only be for a few days.
On the other hand, Staikouras noted, “there are citizens, accountants and chambers that are asking for an extension and a chance for corrections,” which will also be assessed.
He reiterated the government’s intention to have a sixth phase in March, regardless of the market’s operation status at the time, stressing that the ministry will continue to support businesses as long as it takes. However, ministry sources say that the sixth stage will be smaller, with the cash distributed not exceeding €1 billion.
Staikouras said that support measures for workers and rental cuts for companies will also continue, adding that they will be expanded and enriched, depending on conditions.