Corona crisis measures added to, broadened
The Cabinet has opened out and beefed up the package of measures aimed at combating the current corona crisis by adding several new measures.
Several additional business sectors have been admitted to the TOGS scheme, which provides entrepreneurs in COVID‑19 affected sectors with a (one-off) tax-exempt net reimbursement in the amount of 4,000 euros each. Having originally been made up of businesses having had to discontinue operations and businesses whose operations had been badly affected by the countrywide ban on organising gatherings or events or by the negative travel advice issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and having already been expanded to include retailers suffering sales declines owing to the lack of customers, the target group has now been broadened to include camp site operators and operators of listed buildings, cab drivers, zoos and physical therapists. The TOGS scheme is also available to healthcare providers, albeit that these are under the obligation to furnish a certificate bearing out to what extent they are already collecting compensation for their sales drop-off and staffing costs under one or more of the other schemes that had previously been launched for participants in this particular sector. The entire list featuring the corresponding SBI (= standard business classification) codes is available at www.rvo.nl, this being the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s web site. Subscription by businesses in any of the newly admitted sectors opened on Wednesday, 15 April 2020.
Further to “establishment criterion”
The TOGS scheme is aimed at offering compensation for fixed charges of a non-staffing cost nature and as such is geared to entrepreneurs whose principal place of business is based elsewhere than at their home address. Entrepreneurs in certain business sectors typically carry out a significant portion of their operations from their own home. In order to ensure that entrepreneurs in this category whose periodic overhead charges are substantial also qualify for admission to the TOGS scheme, they are asked to produce a supplementary certificate in corroboration of the scope of their business operations. This additional criterion does not apply to business sectors whose entrepreneurs typically operate a physical establishment or production assets away from their own home although their business as such is registered at their home address, such as driving school businesses (for motorists and/or motorcyclists). These business are therefore exempted from producing the supplementary certificate.
Any business owner who is convinced that his or her principal business activity should render him or her eligible for inclusion in the TOGS scheme but whose business is registered under the wrong SBI code is advised to get in touch with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency via www.rvo.nl.
Supplementary measures for funding of businesses
There are businesses that do not qualify for any of the existing relief packages even though their cash position has been badly affected owing to the corona crisis. This applies in particular to the category of private equity-funded businesses that do not have access to bank loans, such as innovative businesses and start-ups/scale-ups. The Cabinet has implemented supplementary economic measures for this particular target group.
GO scheme temporarily expanded to include “corona module”
The GO scheme, or Business Finance Guarantee scheme, is temporarily being expanded to include a corona module for bank loan guarantees under the name “GO‑C”, whose percentage has been fixed at 80 percent for businesses whose annual sales total upwards from 50 million euros, against 90 percent for businesses with annual sales of less than 50 million euros. The overall guaranteed maximum of the GO scheme is being increased to 10 billion euros. A maximum three-year term applies to GO‑C loans. The Cabinet is currently discussing with the banks how to expedite the launch of the GO‑C module once the European Commission has granted its approval.
Bridge loan fund for privately funded businesses
The Cabinet is to enable bridge loans being taken out by corona crisis-affected privately (i.e. non bank loan) funded businesses. The regional development companies have been designated to officiate as lenders. An initial tier of 100 million euros is being set aside for this purpose. The measure in question, which is currently being vetted by the European Commission, is scheduled to become available in the course of week 18.
Smaller-size privately funded businesses
According to calculations carried out by Qredits, a supplementary contribution in the amount of 25 million euros will be needed in order for the microfinance organisation to provide its target group with reduced-interest bridge loans.
Reduction of BMKB‑C fees cum increase in suretyship budget
The regular fee charged for BMKB, the government-guaranteed scheme for loans to SMEs, amounts to 3.9 percent of the amount in suretyship. The fee charged for BMKB‑C, the corona specific portion of the scheme, is being reduced to 2 percent. The Cabinet has stressed how important it is for banks to exercise restraint where it concerns the (handling) fees they charge on to their customers. The suretyship budget of the BMKB scheme is being increased from its current level of 765 million euros to 1.5 billion euros. The BMKB‑C scheme caters for all financial backers not being banks that have successfully negotiated a curtailed written accreditation process.
Reinsurance of short-term credit insurance
It is quite customary for SMEs to use a supply mechanism that hinges on supplier credit. This typically involves credit insurers providing insurance for short-term credit terms. The corona crisis has sparked an upsurge in payment risk, with insurers reducing the insurance limits they had previously granted. The Finance Ministry is currently working on a reinsurance facility for the year 2020 with the aim of preventing credit insurers having no choice but to curtail their limits. The particulars of the reinsurance agreement are yet to be worked up, in addition to which the European Commission’s approval will be needed.
The European Commission has presented a proposal aimed at increasing the advance payments towards CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) grants. The standard prepayments under the direct income support scheme as per CAP are to be raised from 50 to 70 percent and the standard advance Agricultural Nature and Landscape Management payments, from 75 to 85 percent. It will moreover be permissible to make advance payments without the full complement of physical checks having been carried out. The advance payment dates as such are not being brought forward.
According to the Cabinet, advance payments should be made from as early as the first of July rather than the 16th of October onwards whereas the direct income support related advance payments should be bumped up to 80 percent. The Cabinet is developing a national measure aimed at granting farmers access to CAP income support by the month of July of this year.
Dutch version: Aanvulling en uitbreiding maatregelen coronacrisis