Aid for businesses affected by health restrictions will be strengthened and expanded, particularly for the tourism sector, the government announced on Monday, as the Omicron variant threatens the French economy.
Two existing systems are seeing their conditions of access extended, and two are under study. Provisions for which “there are no budgetary difficulties”, assured the Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, at the end of a meeting in Bercy bringing together the employers’ organizations, and several representatives of the tourism, hotel and catering.
All companies subject to health restriction measures will benefit from the partial activity without charge, said Le Maire.
The bases for triggering this device are broadened and “all companies which have lost 65% of their turnover” – against 80% so far – will be eligible for reimbursement of the partial activity at 100% without remains at charge.
The fixed costs support system, until now reserved for a limited number of companies (events, indoor leisure, caterers, etc.), will for its part be extended to all tourism companies: “It There are hotels, bars, restaurants, travel agencies, all the activities which are in the field of tourism “, underlined Mr. Le Maire.
The threshold for access to the system for covering all fixed costs has also been lowered, to 50% loss of turnover, against 65% previously.
The minister also promised to speed up reimbursement procedures for amounts below 50,000 euros, “in a few days”.
– “A very good thing” –
Asked about the cost for the State of this reinforced aid, he put forward an order of magnitude of “hundreds of millions of euros”, “very far” from the billions of the regime of “whatever it costs”.
“We have very precisely 1.8 billion euros which have not been spent in the emergency fund to respond to the economic crisis”, recalled Mr. Le Maire, “so we have a leeway of 1 , 8 billion euros “.
The minister also indicated that two requests from the sectors concerned would be examined: exemption from charges for companies which would have lost 65% of their turnover or which would be the subject of sanitary restriction measures, as well as the modalities repayment of loans guaranteed by the State already granted.
The president of Travel Companies Jean-Pierre Mas is keen on this exemption from charges: “We have a lot of staff who work for little productivity: we have to reorganize trips, reimburse, modify, inform …” In addition, the announced aids “are planned for December, January and February if necessary: it is positive”, he notes.
“Many companies, especially the smallest of them, very small businesses, artisans, traders, fear that they will not be able to meet the deadline of next spring, in terms of repayment terms and in terms of payment. ‘repayment schedules “, acknowledged Mr. Le Maire.
The minister simply indicated that he was in discussions with the European Commission and the French Banking Federation.
According to participants at the meeting, the possibility of postponing the first installment by six months and the prospect of staggering repayments up to 10 years, on a case-by-case basis, would be considered. Bercy did not comment.
“The government has taken into account the situation of the sector. There are still improvements to be made; this is the whole subject of the discussions that we are starting now because we must act quickly, particularly concerning eligibility for the program. partial unemployment “, responded to AFP Didier Chenet, president of the GNI, the union of independent hotel and restaurant workers.
As for accelerated compensation for companies up to 50,000 euros, “that’s a very good thing,” he said.
For his part Roland Héguy, president of Umih, the main union in the hotel and catering industry, welcomes “a real desire not to leave any business on the ground and to restore the confidence of very small businesses”.
Like his counterparts in GNI and Travel Companies, he wants companies that suffer from activity restrictions to benefit from the partial activity covered 100%, even if their loss of turnover is less than 65 %.