Protecting jobs: More money for short-time work, bridging finance secured
Finance Minister Gernot Blümel announces increase in expenditure framework to EUR 1 billion for short-time working. Banks pledge bridging loans to provide upfront finance for wage and salary payments.
"We want to ensure that salaries can be paid," declared Finance Minister Gernot Blümel at today's press conference, presenting the latest measures aimed in particular at preserving jobs and businesses.
Protective umbrella totalling EUR 38 billion
"As a federal government, we have extended a protective umbrella across the national economy totalling EUR 38 billion," declared Finance Minister Blümel. This covers several areas: tax and reductions in tax payments on account, plus guarantees and liabilities, totalling up to EUR 9 billion, a corona crisis fund in the sum of EUR 15 billion, and an emergency aid package totalling EUR 4 billion.
Funds available for short-time working increased to EUR 1 billion
The expenditure framework for short-time working has been increased from an original sum of EUR 400 million to EUR 1 billion, announced Minister Blümel: "We have observed that short-time working is being very well received. Here, we have a unique model, and it is being adopted accordingly. Thus more money is needed, and for this reason we are increasing funds to EUR 1 billion."
To give quickly is to give double
On top of this, there is the hardship fund, primarily for smaller businesses and sole traders. "Here, the first step, emergency assistance, can be taken up very rapidly and without the need for extensive documentation," added Finance Minister Blümel. The first phase has been open to online applications since 27 March 2020, via the Austrian Economic Chamber. In an initial phase, up to EUR 1,000 will be paid out. In a second phase, up to EUR 6,000 may be claimed over three months. In addition, there is the corona crisis fund totalling EUR 15 billion, serving those sectors which are particularly hard hit. "The aim here is to enable primarily those companies affected by closures due to the Pandemics Act to access government loans, with the advantage that 75% of a company's operating costs will not need to be repaid," explained Blümel.
Bridging assistance to be provided by the banks
"In the context of all these measures, we also need assistance from other institutions. This is not a crisis which a particular institution can overcome on its own; here, we all have to pull together. In this regard, the banking sector plays a key role, explained Minister Blümel. Since last week, new loans in a volume of EUR 6.2 billion have been granted, and the banks have already deferred payment on 21,500 existing loans. In order to counter the liquidity shortfalls arising from advance payments on short-time working, firstly, the funds available for short-time working are being increased, and secondly, approval confirmation from the Arbeitsmarktservice (AMS) with regard to short-time working is being accepted as collateral for operating loans. "I am delighted that, here, we have come to a solution with the banking sector so as to be able to bridge liquidity shortfalls. This is a crisis which we will only overcome in cooperation with all areas of society, and with all generations, and so I wish to say a huge thank you to everyone helping on the front line," concluded Minister Blümel.