Economy & Politics

Government wants to improve – a little

It is still unclear when the November aid will be paid out. Photo: dpa / Robert Michael

Simple and unbureaucratic: that was actually the promise of the federal government with the billions in November aid. But the annoyance that the money does not arrive quickly enough and that advance payments are not enough is growing ever greater. The government reacts.

Berlin – After massive criticism from the economy, the federal government wants to top up the November aid for companies in the partial lockdown. Advance payments are to be increased – i.e. the first funds that flow to those affected. Companies are to receive a maximum of 50,000 euros instead of the previous 10,000 euros, as the German press agency learned on Tuesday from government circles after an agreement between the finance and economics ministries.

More than 400 million euros have already been paid out

This proposal is now before the countries for examination, it said. The advance payments are an advance payment for later payments. Solo self-employed should continue to receive an advance payment of up to 5000 euros. As of Tuesday, more than 400 million euros in advances have been paid out so far, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The demand came from the federal states in particular to massively increase the down payments, up to 500,000 euros – because otherwise many companies would run into liquidity bottlenecks. According to reports, however, there was great concern in the federal government that significantly higher payments on account could lead to more cases of abuse.

There are exceptions for the self-employed

The November aid supports companies in the catering sector, for example, as well as self-employed people who had to close their operations due to the partial lockdown. Because of the extension of the restrictions, billions in December aid are also planned according to the November aid model – there will also be payments on account. “Bridging aid” is to be expanded from January, but it will follow a different system.

With the regular November and December aid, 75 percent of the lost sales are to be reimbursed. It is mainly about fixed costs that arise despite the temporary closure. The comparative value for the amount of the reimbursement is the turnover of the same month last year, but there are exceptions for the self-employed. The federal government expects a total of around 15 billion euros each for the November and December aid.

Funds may not flow until January

It is unclear when exactly the regular November aid should be paid out. From a response from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to a request from the FDP in the Bundestag, it emerged that the regular November aid could only flow in January.

For programs such as November aid, the federal government concludes administrative agreements with the federal states, because the processing and disbursement is carried out by the federal states – the payments on account are processed through the federal treasury pointed out that only “at the end” can be billed. In addition, there is the short-time work allowance, which must be deducted and therefore indicated. Delays could also occur here.

Altmeier forbids criticism

Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) rejected criticism of a slow payout. He said in the Bundestag on Tuesday: “This is something we have never done in 70 years, that we reimburse lost sales – and mind you in such a way that the Federal Audit Office and others have no reason to criticize us.”

Altmaier said that the question of how the money can get to those affected as quickly as possible was discussed with the federal states. “I can tell you that there was not a single institution in this republic that dared to bring this money to men and women within a few days. Simply because it wasn’t possible. ”Even the federal states would not have seen themselves capable of doing so.

Business associations such as the German Hotel and Restaurant Association, on the other hand, complain that the aid does not reach the companies quickly enough. The general manager of the Federal Association of Liberal Professions, Peter Klotzki, had said: “The longer the delay, the more it damages the liquidity, it is in the truest sense of the substance and thus the existence.”

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Things are getting tight for many companies

Criticism of Altmaier also came from the coalition partner. SPD parliamentary group vice Sören Bartol said on Tuesday in the Bundestag to Altmaier that he would ask for a little more speed with the payout. The FDP politician Christian Dürr said: “Most companies have not yet seen a cent of the payments on account – not to mention the November aid. The increase is a step in the right direction, but it will not do any good if the money does not arrive. For many companies it is getting tight. “

Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) said that the federal government could not yet provide the states with the software necessary for paying out regular aid. The previous installments were not enough, especially for larger companies, to cover the fixed costs. That is why he demands from the federal government “for larger companies at least up to 100,000 euros quickly on the account and prompt final billing”. The Berlin Senator for Economic Affairs Ramona Pop (Greens) said: “Of course, that takes the emergency aid in November ad absurdum if the payments come in January.”

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