VIENNA. To support the Austrian economy in the corona crisis, the Covid-19 Federal Finance Agency (COFAG) was founded in April 2020 as part of the Covid-19 Act. Your task is to provide guarantees, fixed cost subsidies, loss compensation and lockdown sales compensation for domestic companies. A total of 15 billion euros are available for this in the Corona aid fund.
Bz spoke to Bernhard Perner and Marc Schimpel, the managing directors of COFAG, about the current situation.
“No matter what it costs,” promised Federal Chancellor Sebastian shortly a year ago. How much has COFAG paid out in aid in Vienna since then?
BERNHARD PERNER: As of February 15, 2021, applications from 58,845 Viennese applicants for fixed cost subsidies and lockdown sales compensation had been received. Of these, 52,651 have already been approved. This means that 89 percent of companies have already received money or will receive it shortly. A total of 889 million euros has already been paid out in Vienna.
What are the shortcomings when some applications take longer?
MARC SCHIMPEL: As I said, only around a tenth of the Viennese applicants are still in the approval process, as the results of the examination of these applications were not immediately clear. We contact these applicants to clarify open issues and obtain additional information.
BERNHARD PERNER: Certain information must be confirmed by a tax advisor, auditor or accountant. Often times, we get this information quickly so that we can continue the exam. However, this is not always the case. In some cases, this also means that processing takes longer. But we do our best to ensure that every single case is processed as quickly as possible.
How many employees are there for this?
MARC SCHIMPEL: At the moment around 125 people are working on processing the applications and taking care of the applicants: from the coordination team and clerks in the examination to the call center. In addition, officials in the Ministry of Finance support us in answering more complex questions.
The extended lockdown came as a shock to many of those affected. Are you prepared for it?
BERNHARD PERNER: We have responded by now offering two additional instruments on behalf of the Ministry of Finance. On the one hand, there is the cancellation bonus. It combines a 15 percent sales replacement with an advance payment on the fixed cost subsidy. This can be requested on a monthly basis. This means that companies that, for whatever reason, have not received any sales compensation or were unable to take advantage of other offers, can now benefit from this cancellation bonus.
MARC SCHIMPEL: On the other hand, there is now also an indirect revenue replacement for suppliers. This means that if an entrepreneur makes more than 50 percent of his turnover with businesses that are now closed, he is entitled to compensation. This applies, for example, to a laundry that specializes in city hotels. With these two additional instruments, we can now react and help even more specialized and faster.
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