Tuesday, January 25

SMB warns of possible mass lawsuits against the government

The interest organization for small and medium-sized companies will have access to the decision basis behind the liquor ban.

Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum (Sp) and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) from one of the government’s press conferences on the corona situation in December.

Published: Published:

– Many have requested access to the decision basis behind the stop to drinking and have not received it. We now formally ask SMB Norway with this letter. Once again, there are some industries where the pandemic measures are very hard hit, says Jørund Rytman, CEO of SMB Norway, the interest organization for small and medium-sized companies.

He says that they are considering mass lawsuits against the authorities for unjustified loss of income, if the government can not show a good basis for decision.

On Christmas Eve, SMB Norway sent a letter to the government, by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Health and Care Services.

In the letter, which E24 has been given access to, the organization writes: «The country’s small and medium-sized enterprises find the government’s handling unpredictable towards businesses, which in practice is imposed on a business association. We find the measures extremely disproportionate »

Read the whole letter here:

– Feeling out of place

– Why should a restaurant not be allowed to pour wine, if they have good systems for serving and infection tracking during the pandemic? asks Rytman, and adds that such a bar stop also affects companies that deliver goods to restaurants.

He says that in recent days he has been in meetings with lawyers, both internal and external, about the case.

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This is how the government defends the strict measures

– Everyone who is affected feels out of justice. The pandemic has been going on for almost two years, and we see that there is greater despair now than when the pandemic first hit the country. We can not wait for another corona commission, this is urgent, says Rytman.

SMB Norway finds it very problematic that the public does not gain insight into what assessments the government has made of the proportionality of the measures.

“We are of the clear opinion that this provides a basis for questioning both the proportionality of the measures and their legitimacy,” the letter states.

Jørund Rytman is CEO of SMB Norway.

– The background for the letter is the situation we are in. These are quite intrusive measures for many of our members, and will find out what has happened. We need to know if there are any rights our members should have when they lose their income, and get increased costs, says Karl-Anders Grønland, chairman of the board of SMB Norway.

He says that it is not about agreeing or disagreeing with the measures.

– Greater society has an interest in preventing infection, we agree. But there are some who take the bill, and it is not they who make the decisions now. It is every single company that is affected that does, regardless of whether there is really a need for them to close. We want to know how it was weighed and assessed who takes the bill, which is unevenly distributed, says Greenland.

Understand that the measures are tough

State Secretary Karl Kristian Bekeng (Labor Party) in the Ministry of Health and Care Services says that they understand that the measures were a tough message for an industry that has had a difficult time for a long time.

– The bar stop is an intrusive measure. We believe it is necessary because people care less about themselves and others the more alcohol they drink. In the serious situation we are in now, measures are needed to reduce mobility and contact in the population, he says.

– Updated information from FHI also shows that employees in occupations with frequent contact with others, such as employees at restaurants and health personnel, have had more cases of proven covid-19 than others, he continues.

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Vedum: – The whole point is that as few as possible should lose their jobs

The Secretary of State says they are doing what they can to avoid closing the country, and that the government must constantly weigh different considerations against each other when measures are taken.

He refers to how the government in the last two weeks has presented a number of financial measures to keep the economy going and secure jobs, especially the reopening of cash subsidies to companies and the introduction of a new wage subsidy scheme.

– Neither the compensation scheme nor the wage support scheme is perfect, the scheme will contribute positively for some companies, but not for all, Bekeng says.

The Government proposes rules that companies that make a profit for the year as a whole must repay subsidies received through the compensation scheme. And that there will be restrictions on the ability to take dividends.

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Tightens crisis support scheme after E24 revelations


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