The Federal Council has heard the hosts’ calls for help! The hardship regulation for companies battered by the Corona crisis will be relaxed. Those affected should get support money more quickly. SVP finance minister Ueli Maurer (70) passed his proposals with great ease. In concrete terms this means:
- 40 day rule: In the current partial lockdown, pubs and bars, but also fitness studios and cinemas, had to close. The following applies: Anyone who has to close for “at least 40 days” between November 2020 and June 2021 due to official measures is automatically considered to be a case of hardship and is simplified to receive support payments. In these cases you no longer have to prove the decline in sales, it is automatically accepted. This opens the way for industry solutions. With store lockdown from next week, the program will also be extended to the retail trade!
- 40 percent decline in sales: For businesses that are not compulsorily closed – such as hotels – a decline in sales of over 40 percent compared to 2018/2019 is still considered a hardship. So far, the calendar year 2020 has been used for this. Instead of the year 2020, “the last 12 months” can now also be used for the calculation – for example from April 2020 to March 2021. But no later than July 2020 to June 2021. This takes better account of the now longer lockdown.
- Higher A-fund perdu contributions: The Federal Council is increasing the upper limit of A-fonds-perdu contributions from the previous 10 percent of the average turnover to up to 20 percent of the average turnover in 2018/2019. The maximum contribution limit will be increased from CHF 500,000 to CHF 750,000 per company. In exceptional cases, up to 1.5 million francs is possible. However, the cantons’ contributions should be based on the amount of uncovered fixed costs.
- Dividendenverbot: The dividend ban will also be adjusted – it will be shortened from 5 to 3 years.
2.5 billion is not enough
Finance Minister Maurer spoke in front of the media of a “fair solution” and “generous compensation”. The previously spoken CHF 2.5 billion would probably not be enough – he wants to apply for an additional loan in parliament in the spring session. How high this will be is still open. That will now be calculated together with the cantons.
He made it clear: “The problem is not the provision of money, but the handling of the requests,” said Maurer. While 50,000 cases of hardship had previously been expected, Maurer is now assuming up to 100,000 cases of hardship companies.
The cantons are now particularly challenged. More than half of the cantons are already paying hardship benefits in January, and almost all cantons should be ready by February, according to the Federal Council.
Funds should flow as quickly as possible
“The implementation is not that easy,” said Zurich SVP finance director Ernst Stocker (65). For Zurich alone, he expects 20,000 applications. That must now be implemented in two months. You have to proceed correctly, but: “The funds will flow!” In Zurich it will probably take until the end of February due to the legal requirements.
“The expansion of the compassionate use program is urgently needed,” said the Basel government councilor Christoph Brutschin (62) as President of the Conference of Economics Directors. “We have to ensure that the money reaches those who need it as quickly as possible – and there are quite a few.” And he emphasized: “The cantons do what they can!”
Catering industry insists on more speed
The catering industry commented on the proposals at a separate media conference. “The Federal Council has recognized the seriousness of the situation,” said Gastrosuisse President Casimir Platzer. It is an important step in the right direction. The decisive factor is now how quickly the hardship benefits are paid out. It is important that the companies can be helped immediately.