ECONOMY

Fewer euros for more firms

fewer-euros-for-more-firms

Next week will see the start of payments to businesses and freelancers from the fifth phase of the cheap state loans program, but with a significant reduction in the maximum amount paid out, well below the 350,000 euros of previous phases.

The Finance Ministry has been forced to slash the maximum amount disbursed per applicant in the “Deposit To Be Returned” program, as applications have reached the unprecedented number of 732,000. It will also reduce the number of recipients, as thousands of applicants do not fulfill the eligibility criteria. More than 200,000 businesses that submitted applications are expected to strike out.

The disbursement of the sum of €1.5 billion is set to begin next week, thereby taking the total that the program will have paid out to €7 billion during its five phases to date.

So far the program has extended credit on favorable terms to 482,271 recipients, with 91% of them, or 439,200 businesses and freelance professionals, receiving up to €20,000 each. The rest concerned medium-sized and larger enterprises.

A sixth phase is projected for March, but the amount to be disbursed then will be reduced to €1 billion.

Meanwhile the ministry will next month submit to Parliament the temporary measure of state support to enterprises in the form of subsidizing their fixed expenditure. Each company will be able to draw a maximum amount of €3 million.

Minister Christos Staikouras announced on Friday that “the enterprises that have been financially damaged [by the pandemic] will be able to receive support in the form of a ‘fixed expenditure subsidy’ so as to contribute toward the payment of fixed costs not covered through other subsidies.” This means that the cash each enterprise will collect will be based on its declared financial data.

He added that the government has also submitted a request to the European Commission concerning the disbursement of additional unused resources from the SURE employment support program.