1. Crisis guarantee. In addition to the existing guarantee scheme, companies can now also have a bridging loan guaranteed by the ‘ParticipatieMaatschappij Vlaanderen’ for existing non-bank debts, of up to a maximum of 12 months (which was previously only up to 3 months). This measure comes on top of the existing guarantee options for investment credit(s) and working capital and makes it possible to guarantee 1,000 loans of € 100,000 that are placed under a 75% regional guarantee.
The guarantee is available for companies and self-employed people who, due to the coronavirus crisis, among other things, are unable to pay their personnel, cannot purchase raw materials or cannot pay their invoices and need to take out a loan and who have insufficient guarantees to obtain a bank or non-bank bridging loan.
More information about the Corona Crisis Guarantee and how to apply for it, can be found here.
2. Support of the ParticipatieMaatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV)
Those who make use of the Start-up Loan, Co-financing and Co-financing+ granted from the PMV are temporarily not required to repay that financing. The suspension is valid for three months and will be extended to six months if necessary.
With the win-win loan from PMV, the Flemish government is encouraging private individuals to grant a subordinated loan to SMEs. A private individual can lend up to € 50,000 to a Flemish SME for a term of 8 years. For this purpose, the lender receives an annual tax credit of 2.5% on the outstanding capital of the win-win loan.
The PMV is also in contact with the European Investment Fund (EIF) to see whether and how it can use the additional resources and guarantees released by Europe in the context of this crisis.
A complete overview of the PMV support measures can be found here.
3. Obstruction premium
It is possible to apply to VLAIO for a coronavirus obstruction premium if, as an entrepreneur, you have had to close down your business in accordance with the Federal guidelines.
Entrepreneurs affected by a complete closure will receive a one-off premium of € 4,000 and, if they still have to close their business after 5 April 2020, compensation of € 160 per mandatory closing day that coincides with a regular opening day
Mobile commercial activities have been, since 18 March 2020, also eligible (e.g. market vendors).
Allocation is not made per undertaking, but per establishment, provided that at least one full-time staff member is employed in each additional establishment. However, there is a limit of five premiums per undertaking.
Self-employed persons in a secondary occupation are also entitled to the premium if, due to the level of their income, they have to pay the same social security contributions as a self-employed person in a main occupation.
Applications are to be made online and can be made until 19 May 2020.
More details can be found here.
4. One-off compensation of € 3,000 for companies that remain open (as the ‘obstruction premium’ is only for businesses that have to close), but have a loss of turnover of at least 60 % during the period of 15 March until 30 April 2020 compared to the previous year. The premium applies to companies from all possible sectors, such as, for example, rental companies, plumbers, caterers, medical professions such as physiotherapists or dentists, companies that provide essential food services such as praline shops or beverage retailers but still suffer a heavy loss of turnover due to lack of passers-by or tourists, etc. The loss of turnover must be demonstrated on a ‘statement of honour’ in comparison with the previous year's turnover and for start-ups regarding their financial plan.
5. COVID-19 guarantee: In the context of the temporary flexible application of the European state aid rules, Gigarant (Guarantee scheme above € 1,5 million) will be able to introduce a modified COVID-19 guarantee on the market, which offers more flexibility. For this purpose, Gigarant's guarantee capacity will be increased from the current € 1,5 billion to € 3 billion.
6. Flexibility in terms of conditions for support measures and grants: companies that have difficulties in meeting the deadlines for certain VLAIO grants due to the crisis may consult with the Agency to request a possible extension.
7. Flemish tax measures
- Postponement of property tax for companies: It has been decided to send out the property tax assessments for companies at a later date to prevent companies from ending up having liquidity problems. This means that approximately € 1 billion in taxes will not be collected in the spring, but only in the autumn (the property tax assessments for companies will be sent out from September 2020). For more information, we refer to this link.
- 4 months postponement of the payment of the annual road tax.
- Flexible repayment plans are allowed.
- Extension of the time limits for meeting the tax obligations for inheritance tax and registration tax.
More information about the different Flemish tax measures is available at the following link.
8. Incentive bonus for employees
The Flemish incentive bonus that already existed to encourage employees to work part-time in order to avoid redundancies is now extended to companies that, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, experience a decrease of at least 20% in turnover, production or orders in the month preceding the interruption compared to the same month in the previous year. The monthly premium for the employee is between € 68 and € 172 and can start on 1 April 2020 at the earliest and end on 30 June 2020 at the latest. This bonus can be applied for online.
9. Employment and start-up subsidies made more flexible
The Flemish government has decided to simplify a number of Flemish support measures aimed at employment and stimulation of entrepreneurship:
Work permits for economic migrants (non-EU citizens) that are granted for a period of maximum 90 days will be extended if these economic migrants cannot return to their home country due do the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
10. Tourism support measures
A budget of € 5 million will be made available for youth and social tourism. In addition, Tourism Flanders will not collect rent from youth hostels this year. The conditions of these support measures are currently being further elaborated by Tourism Flanders.
11. Support measures for agriculture and horticulture
More information about the various Flemish support measures for the agri-food sector can be found here.
12. Financial compensation for the payment of the water and electricity bill for an amount of € 202.68 gross.
13. The Flemish Government developed a specific compensation scheme for childcare that remains open and available during the corona crisis. More information is available here.
The above information is merely intended as comment on relevant issues of Belgian law and is not intended as legal advice. Before taking action or relying on the comments and the information given, please seek specific advice on the matters that are of concern to you.