New measures have weekly cost of some €120 million
The Finance Ministry is now weighing the cost of the new restrictions on retail commerce, with provisional estimates pointing to an extra burden on the budget that will reach up to 500 million euros per month, or some €120 million a week.
The problem is that this is in excess of the cost included in the budget, meaning that pressure is growing on the ministry to act with caution regarding the support measures from now on. In this context, ministry sources said there is little chance of making the most of the expanded limits the European Commission has allowed for the support of enterprises, through the revision of the temporary framework of state subsidies.
Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told Real FM radio on Friday that some small and medium-sized enterprises will still get to benefit from the increase in the limit Brussels had set. Loans from the first three phases of the cheap state credit program (“Deposit To Be Returned”) may not have to be repaid in full.
The new framework by the European Commission increases the limit of the subsidy the state can supply to an enterprises, turning loans into grants. The ceiling is now set at €10 million per company, up from €3 million previously.
This is the new instrument the government aspires to utilize in the context of European regulations, issuing grants to companies with fixed expenditure that has not been covered by their profits or by any state support. The Commission has also extended this program by another six months until the end of the year.
Staikouras referred to this change on Friday, saying that Brussels has both expanded and extended this support framework for companies, meaning that certain Greek enterprises which narrowly missed out on state subsidies previously will eventually be able to benefit from this funding instrument.
“We will therefore be able to assist more SMEs, while we will be able to turn certain loans and other repayable measures into direct subsidies,” the minister stated.