COVID-19 - New support package for businesses
With the spread of Covid-19, Luxembourg is facing an unprecedented health crisis, which is having a significant impact on the functioning of public life as well as that of companies. In order to help companies whose business will be impacted by the pandemic, the Chamber of Commerce, along with the House of Entrepreneurship and the Mutualité de Cautionnement, and the General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Entreprises of the Ministry of the Economy, presented a new package of support measures on Friday 13 March.
As a professional chamber and legal representative of the interests of businesses in all economic sectors, apart from crafts and agriculture, the Chamber of Commerce intends to act pragmatically, quickly and effectively to support the country's businesses. In the presence of the Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, and Minister for Tourism, Lex Delles, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Luc Frieden, announced a set of measures that will be effective as of Monday 16 March 2020.
Bank guarantee for companies with cash flow difficulties
A first measure decided to help businesses to face financial difficulties, and especially cash-flow problems, is the setting up of specific bond in the form of a guarantee that the Chamber of Commerce offers via its Mutualité de Cautionnement to companies that need credit or a bank loan. This guarantee will be up to 50% of the credit and cover a maximum amount of EUR 250,000 per guarantee. In order to quickly guarantee assistance to companies that request it, a procedure for analysing files within 48 hours has been put in place. ‘This rapid and pragmatic measure of the Chamber of Commerce will contribute, together with the implementation of partial unemployment, to ensuring the continuity of businesses in this difficult period’, explained Luc Frieden.
Companies who would like to take advantage of this guarantee must apply directly to their bank, who will decide whether or not to release the credit. The Chamber of Commerce is in contact with the banks to organise the provision of this new service. In addition, information on this crisis intervention tool can be requested via the following number: 42 39 39 - 445.
New helpline for businesses
A second measure is the implementation by the House of Entrepreneurship of the Chamber of Commerce of a new helpline to provide businesses with real-time information. The number of the helpline is: 42 39 39 - 445 and it will operate from Monday 16 March, during working days, from 9am-12pm and 2pm-5pm, to answer questions from businesses on a variety of topics, such as partial unemployment benefits and state and public aid provided by the authorities and the Chamber of Commerce. It will also be possible to reach this helpline via email at covid19(at)houseofentrepreneurship.lu. This new helpline is not intended to answer health questions, which are handled by the Ministry of Health.
Remote assistance from the House of Entrepreneurship
In view of the increasing risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the House of Entrepreneurship partner on-site consultation services, usually held on Tuesdays at the one-stop shop, have been suspended. However, these entities can still be contacted by email. The House of Entrepreneurship will continue to keep its information desk open via remote processing by telephone: 42 39 39 - 330 and via the email address info(at)houseofentrepreneurship.lu for all startup applications, administrative procedures, VAT, or social security questions, etc.
Aid scheme for SMEs
The Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, and Minister for Tourism, Lex Delles, welcomed these measures put in place by the Chamber of Commerce. They will complement the bill adopted at the Government Council meeting on 11 March 2020 to introduce an aid scheme to supplement the aid instruments to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that find themselves in temporary financial difficulty following the repercussions of an exceptional and unforeseeable event of national or international scope. Mr Delles pointed out that the granting of the aid was subject to a threefold condition, namely that an event was recognised as having a harmful impact on the economic activity of certain firms during a given period, that the firm was experiencing temporary financial difficulties, and that there was a causal link between those difficulties and the event in question.
Examples of events that fall under the definition of ‘exceptional events’ include acts of terrorism, volcanic eruptions, or epidemics such as coronavirus. In such cases, SMEs experience more liquidity difficulties than large companies as a result of an event causing, for example, supply disruptions or large numbers of cancellations of bookings. Expenses that are eligible under the new aid scheme are limited to the loss of income incurred. The aid takes the form of a repayable advance.
Despite the difficult situation faced by SMEs, Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, and Minister for Tourism, Lex Delles, said he was confident that they would be able to get through this difficult period, ‘we are aware that the SME sector, the backbone of the Luxembourg economy, is facing a major challenge. I am convinced that thanks to close and regular contact with the private sector, we will jointly find the appropriate and necessary solutions during this extraordinary time.’