Blümel: Positive trends in the employment market, tax income and the budget Economic output 1.1% above pre-crisis level 

The most recent economic data provides grounds for optimism, as economic output has been improving gradually in all sectors and now lies very close to or above the average levels in 2019. “This is good news for us all - for the companies and for the many employees in Austria. We have learnt to live with the pandemic better and - thanks to the vaccinations - now have completely different options open to us compared to the beginning of the crisis. This is why we are now at a stage where we are able to limit the damage to the economy to an absolute minimum. Thanks to the positive developments the forecasts for the whole year have also improved,” commented Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.

Whereas WIFO (the Austrian Institute for Economic Research) was still assuming growth of only 1.5 % back in the spring, current forecasts stand at 4 % for this year and 5 % for the coming year. This development is, of course, also having a positive effect on the employment market, tax income and, as a result, the budget. Unemployment is continuously reducing and the number of unfilled vacancies currently stands at a record level.

“The positive economic climate is also clearly evident from the economic aid statistics: the number of businesses taking up the options is declining all the time. In addition to the short-time working option, the NPO support fund and hardship fund are still running and providing support to businesses and associations still affected by the pandemic. And with the turnover loss bonus and loss compensation facility, it is still possible for particularly hard-hit businesses - which have suffered a loss in revenue of more than 50 % - to apply for direct subsidies. It is gratifying that fewer and fewer companies are meeting this criterion,” said Blümel.

Whereas 110,000 applications worth EUR 615 million were made for the turnover loss bonus back in January, by June only some 34,000 applications were submitted - and 5,700 applications have been received to date for July, equating to a volume of only EUR 28 million. These trends are visible for all economic aid measures.

“We have always seen it as our duty to offer help where help is urgently needed, but at the same time to use people’s taxes as responsibly as we possibly can. So we adopted the motto, “As strict as we need to be, as accommodating as we can be,” right from the start. That is why we have also introduced an amnesty on economic aid. I would make the case for as many businesses implicated as possible to avail themselves of this opportunity, so as to avoid potential financial consequences for themselves,” stated Finance Minister Blümel.

Since 1 August there has been the option to correct an application for COVID-19 funding on the COFAG website. Voluntary rectification by companies will guard them against potential prosecution by the Public Prosecutor, which the tax authorities are obliged to apply for in the case of wrongdoing. The opportunity to correct the application made will apply until the end of the year - at this point, this option will be withdrawn from the COFAG website.